Friday, April 08, 2005

Fortean Slips: Toilet Paper Plagiarism

In the age of chaos theory and fractal geometry, mathematics is no
longer as drab, boring and awful as it used to be. These exciting new
maths escape the confines of incomprehensible geeky formulae to live and
breathe in the world around us; their beauty is reflected in the grains
of sand on a shifting shoreline... in the whorls of cream stirred into a
cup of coffee... even in the cottony-soft quilted pattern on a roll of
toilet paper.

Yes, toilet paper. Which brings us to one of the dangers inherent in
dabbling in these latest breakthroughs in mathematical science: unlike
Sir Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes, the guys who invented this
newfangled stuff are still around to sue your ass.

In a unique accusation of copyright infringement, distinguished
mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose has filed a lawsuit over the
decorative design on a brand of toilet paper. He charges that the
Kimberly-Clark Corporation unlawfully appropriated an important
geometric pattern of his creation and imprinted it on rolls of Kleenex
Quilted bathroom tissue. He is demanding that all existing stock of the
offensively designed T.P. be confiscated and destroyed, and wants an
inquiry into Kimberly-Clark's profits so that suitable damages may be

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