Define the Universe. Give Three Examples.

George Ball

Of all the e-mail I get, my favorites always go something like this:


"Dear knowledge management guy: My boss has assigned me to lead the design and development of a knowledge management system, but first he wants me to tell him exactly what knowledge management is. Can you give me a good definition to pass on to him? And please keep it simple; he just got promoted to management and has already had his obligatory lobotomy, so try to use mostly one-syllable words."


Ain't knowledge fun?


Way back when I was a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy "Define the universe; give three examples" was purported to be a test question on the "final exam" for the Navy's elite SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) special forces trainees (along with other such challenging questions as "given only a razor blade, a lighter and some thread, remove your appendix.")


FYI, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "universe" as follows:


Main Entry: uni·verse
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin universum, from neuter of universus entire, whole, from uni- + versus turned toward, from past participle of vertere to turn--more at WORTH
Date: 1589
1 : the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated : COSMOS: as (a) : a systematic whole held to arise by and persist through the direct intervention of divine power (b) : the world of human experience
2 …

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The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

- Mark Twain

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