Monday, March 16, 2009

450-year Dead German Mathematician Gets Bill from Math-Stupid Government

Adam Ries, a German mathematician received a letter that required he pay his long-overdue television and radio license fees. (European countries require license fees for all TVs and radios, which pays for commercial-free stations.)

Problem was he's been dead for 450 years. I can't imagine what his license fee will be, but since TV has been around since the 1940s, I can imagine it won't be cheap.

According to a Reuters story, the broadcast fee collection office sent the bill to the last address they had on record for Ries, who bought the house in 1525. Four hundred years later, the house was turned into a math club, named in his honor.

"We received a letter saying 'To Mr Adam Ries' on it, with the request to pay his television and radio fees," club manager Annegret Muench told Reuters.

So Muench returned the letter to the collections office with a note that said Ries had died in 1559. But in typical German efficiency, the office sent a reminder to the dead algebra expert.

Now, I'm no Adam Ries, and algebra was never my best subject, but let's see if we can figure this out: A government agency, in typical government fashion, refuses to examine the facts presented to it, and sends a bill to a guy whose been dead for 450 years. Assuming the agency responsible does not employ the smartest people available, how many more bills will they send out before they finally realize their mistake?

Find for X.

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