Mostly for my own amusement I am posting this short section of a screenplay, which says something about this topic. The first section is just to establish the characters, part of an unusual family, then the next section is about the compatibility problem. Sorry about the wrong formatting. Cutting from a real application and pasting into this blogging software screws it all up.
INT. GREEN FAMILY BUILDING
A tall slim woman about 30 is talking to a taller
man in his early 50s.
Ken, I think you should talk to Beth.
She doesn’t seem happy. She is
beginning to develop, you know, and
David won’t leave her alone. I think
he wants to examine the subject first
Well, I would have, at his age. But
if she is not happy I will have to
talk to her. I can always do that.
INT. BETH’S ROOM
Beth’s room is filled with books and computer
Hi there, beautiful. Bethie, dear.
I am a bit worried about you. Your
mother doesn’t think you are very
Daddy, do I have to go to school?
No. You have to get an education.
But it doesn’t have to be in school.
You could stay home and study with
Annette or another teacher, if you
I think I will, if you don’t mind.
It’s OK with me. I’ll square it
with your mother. You’re too smart
for that grade at school anyway.
Annette or one of the others can
handle most of it, but I’ll do some
of it with you myself for math or
the hard sciences. You are way ahead
of them, there.
A few days later. Books are spread about. Ken
has been giving a lesson to his daughter
… And so, Bethie, that was wave
mechanics. It later fell out of
favor, not before Louis de Broglie
received the Nobel prize in physics
But Daddy, it is so mathematical, he
should have received the Nobel prize
in mathematics for it instead,
shouldn’t he, Daddy?
Well there is no Nobel prize in
That’s silly. Why not?
Well, Alfred Nobel, the man who
donated the money for the prizes
apparently didn’t think mathematics
was as important. He left out
biology, too, though he included
What about computer science?
The early mechanical computers were
almost unknown or jokes or annoying
office machines at best. Nobody
thought they would ever be important
and Alfred Nobel didn’t either.
Are all Nobel prizes forever to be
determined by the prejudices of one
No, much later, in the 1960s sometime,
the national bank of Sweden donated
the money for a Nobel prize in
Well somebody should donate the money
for a Nobel prize in mathematics.
Well, I’m trying to fund the creation
of a university, Beth.
Oh, I didn’t mean you, silly. I
know enough to know that the Nobel
prizes are paid out on the interest
from the original amount of money
that the guy left in his will, right?
They are about a million bucks, Daddy,
so it would take at least 10 million
to fund a new one, and probably more
like 30 million, right? I don’t
think you have that kind of money.
Well, the university is going to
cost me at least 100 million, and
probably a lot more. A lot more.
Holy Cow, Daddy. Did you inherit
this, or get it doing business, or
If you are the important business
kind of guy with that much money,
how come you have so much time to
spend playing with your children?
I would let it all dribble away before
I gave up a single minute playing
with my children. Especially you.
Oh, Daddy. So, here’s what you do,
Daddy. Put your loose change in a
piggy bank. You probably have a lot
of loose change. If you put only
the tiny bit you can afford without
hurting your university or family
into a piggy bank, say a few thousand
a year, or whatever it is, then maybe
you can fund a Nobel prize in
mathematics some year.
Yes, I guess that would work. Maybe
I could do computing science as well.
I could probably put together 100
million worth of loose change in 10
or 15 years.
Daddy, you are teasing me!
No I’m not, Beth.
How much money do you have, anyway?
Are you a billionaire, Daddy?
Please don’t tell anyone, Beth, but
yes, I am.
Wow, rich Daddy! OK, I won’t tell.
I guess that’s how you can afford to
have dozens of children.
Beth, I have hundreds of children.
Oh. Oh, yeah, I guess I knew that.
So many leave with their mommy’s
that I forget. Daddy, you are a
very unusual man!
(looking straight at
his first child)
I think if I’d stopped after the
first, I would be almost as happy.
Pretty Beth blushes, pleased with his praise.
Oh, Daddy. You are so nice. Well,
if you are rich rich rich, I think
you should start that piggybank and
try to setup those two new Nobel
prizes within a couple of decades.
OK, I promise. But you have to try
to win one of them, alright?
Well, maybe, but I think my field is
social technology. I guess you can’t
endow a prize for a discipline you
almost invented, especially when
nobody seems to be doing it. Let’s
revisit that question in a decade or
two, OK, Daddy?
Sure thing, princess.
INT. GREEN FAMILY BUILDING – DAY
Facing away from a communal cooking and dining
area is a row of what looks like model houses,
houses reduced in scale to fit underneath a 12
foot ceiling. The rightmost one of these houses
Ken Green, owner of the building and progenitor of
the many children who reside in the other half of
the building. Ken’s 11 year old daughter Beth
Green approaches and knocks on the door of her
father’s house. He opens it and looks out at her
smiling happily down on his favorite child.
Daddy. Do you have a few moments?
I always have time for you, Beth.
Good. Though I’d never want to take
you away from one of the mommies or
prospective mommies. But if you
really do have time, let’s go to the
True, I do have my duties. But you
have caught me at a good time, at
rest between my labors. Let us go
to the library, then.
INT. LIBRARY WITHIN GREEN FAMILY BUILDING
A large room filled with books and large filing
cabinets. There are a couple of tables with
chairs around them, and some more comfortable
chairs nearby. Beth sits down at a table,
motioning her father to sit beside her. She
points at a small stack of three books in front of
her and slightly to one side. Her father gives a
look of distaste.
(with a theatrical
Yes, Daddy, I’ve read them.
Beth, I am surprised at you. I have
always felt you to be Number One.
You have always been number one to
me, but now it seems you are number
Yes indeed. I believe Edna Stiller
read them a few years ago. She was
the first, so far as I know.
Yes. I’ve spoken to Edna. She says
they are brilliant, but much much
too difficult. She tried to use the
easiest one for a college class once,< br />but the students found it too hard.
Anyway, nevermind. Nevermind. Let’s
move on to the little demonstration
I have prepared.
Beth has three cardboard boxes sitting in front of
her, each for a small jigsaw puzzle.
Behold. The puzzles. Let me just
shove these books aside and the first
I seem to remember you graduating
from jigsaw puzzles to advanced math
about age 3, Bethie.
Yes, and it may have been too soon,
as you will see.
Beth dumps the first box out on the table and
starts turning pieces over, face up, and grouping
them together by appearance. After a moment, her
father begins to help.
Good, Daddy. You are doing the right
thing. You see, you first turn find
pieces that fell out of the box upside
down so that you can see what they
look like, then you move them around.
Human society, Daddy. Human society.
You are trying to fit the pieces
Alright, good metaphor.
Yes. Now some fixed point theorem
says there is a piece we don’t have
to move, but in practice we have to
move all the pieces around. Nothing
stays where it was. We don’t just
try to force any of them to fit with
some other piece that happens to be
nearby, do we?
Ah. So you have read the books.
Depressing, isn’t it. Imagine several
billion pieces, scattered all over
the world. Imagine trying to fit
all of them together.
Relatively easy, Daddy. Now let me
sweep this aside so we can look at
the second box.
Beth opens the second box to reveal a puzzle that
is all put together nicely lying in the bottom of
Now this one I have put together.
So, if I am careful …
She quickly turns the box over. The puzzle comes
out upside down, with almost all the pieces still
stuck together. Rather than trying to put those
back in place, she scatters them around randomly.
Doesn’t this seem a bit more like
reality, Daddy? Not only are the
pieces scattered about at random,
but we can’t see what they really
look like. Each one is a mystery to
us. Just as the people around us
are all mysteries. We can’t see
what they are really like, inside.
Yes. I get it. Let’s say that if
two pieces happen to be side by side
they can talk each other into turning
face to face, showing each other
their faces. Even then …
Yes, even then. Billions of
mysteries, scattered all over the
globe. Yet think about a jigsaw
puzzle, Daddy. The pieces are all
different in shape and will only go
together one way. Maybe a few pieces
will almost fit and can be forced,
but there is one solution we are
So what is in the other box?
Well, let me show you.
She opens the final box. In it is also a puzzle
nicely put together. She briefly shows it to him,
then turns it over carefully, then scatters the
upside down pieces at random, as before. But this
time the pieces have various esoteric signs and
symbols stamped on their backs.
Ah. What do the symbols mean, Beth?
That is for you to figure out, Daddy.
I won’t guarantee that they mean
anything. Also, some of these pieces
may be lying. Some of these ones
stamped with a happy face may actually
be only pretending to have a sunny
disposition. Marry one and you
realize it should have had pitchforks
stamped upon it.
Other than the ones that lie, should
we try to put ones bearing similar
Maybe, maybe not. Maybe their is
some preferred way of matching them,
so we should always match up the
triangles with a specific star shape.
I won’t tell you the answer, Daddy.
People don’t know any such rules, do
they? No, Daddy, this is human
society, not just a collection of
mysteries, but mysteries with
mysterious clues that may be
meaningful or not. They may be lies,
but even if correct, nobody knows
how to interpret them.
I seem to remember a conclusion that
depressing, somewhere, but you have
expressed it brilliantly. Just what
I would have expected from the
smartest girl in the world.
If I’m so smart, how come I can’t
figure out how I will ever find myself
someone when I grow up. I am not
going to fall for someone I just
happen to run into, Daddy. And I am
not going to pretend I have figured
out the clues and know the right
person. So what am I to do? Will I
ever have a truly compatible husband,
Well you know, Beth, no father wants
to think of his little girl in the
arms of a man anyway.
Too bad. I am going to have a real
life, Daddy, out in the real world,
a full life, with all that entails.
I have lived my whole life in this
building, you know. I’ve been very
happy here, but you know what happens
to kids eventually. It is inevitable.
I suppose it is.
Fine. Glad you agree. Well, I am
now a very mature 11 year old, wise
beyond my years. Wise enough to
know that you have not a day over
five years to fix this, Daddy.
How am I suppose to do that?
Didn’t you ever hire some expert
advice about this, Daddy.
Of course I did. The experts mostly
concluded it was unsolvable, except
for those who thought it was trivially
easy. Those who had that idea were
just envisioning a fancy dating
Did you ever use a dating service,
Ouch. The less said about that, the
better. Let’s just say that they
either pretend to read the cryptic
signs on the backs of the puzzle
pieces, or they stamp more symbols
on them and leave you to puzzle them
out. Nothing useful. I think they
are mathematically impossible anyway.
Well, we have to figure out how to
do this. Five years, Daddy. I don’t
want to be the only 16 year old
without a date.
Oh, Bethie, please. No dating until
you are at least 30, please.
No, I am not going to be waiting
around till the bloom is off this
rose, no matter what your fatherly
preferences might be. Five years.
You will have to help, then.
Of course I will help. Now Daddy,
you are going to hire a bunch more
experts. But this time I will help
you select them, and we will show
them the rejected results of your
earlier studies right up front.
Anyone who suspects one conclusion
or the other might be right will not
get the job. You are a rich man,
Daddy, you can afford to throw some
money at this. To start with, I
think we should rent me a numerical
methods expert and a discreet math
person, someone who designs
Done. I’ll get your mother to start
making some queries.
With her fathers help, Beth shovels the puzzle
pieces back into the boxes, stacks the boxes up,
on top of one another, then piles the three books
on top. Her father again looks at them with