1+1=2, 2+1=3. The tenets of basic mathematics are sacrosanct for the generations of mathematicians - and humans - who have relied on equations and the basic laws of counting for daily function. That's why a new result announced by physicist Yakir Aharonov and colleagues sounds a lot like blasphemy.
Aharonov claims that the 'pigeonhole principle' does not hold in quantum mechanics. Said principle states simply that if 3 pigeons are put into 2 holes, one of the holes contains more than 1 pigeon. Apparently the law does not hold in a quantum sense: given 3 particles distributed amongst 2 'boxes,' it is still possible that each box only ever contains 1 particle (or no particles). If this doesn't make sense to you, join the club.
Quantum weirdness: +1
The institution of human mathematics: 0
...but why bother counting when counting no longer makes sense?
“In other words,” the physicists write, “we have three particles in two boxes, yet no two particles can be found in the same box — our quantum pigeonhole principle.”