LAS VEGAS—Legendary daredevil Evel Knievel, who has long been famous for performing thrilling, death-defying stunts, will bravely defy common sense at Caesar's Palace Saturday.
In a bold, never-before-attempted leap of logic, Knievel will attempt to convince a panel of renowned math experts that there exists a single largest integer to which no more can be added.
At noon, with an expected crowd of 25,000 in attendance and millions more watching at home on Fox, a helmeted, jumpsuited Knievel will begin a syllogistic process of gaining larger and larger concessions from the panel of mathematicians, hoping to prove there exists a number x for which there is no possible x+1. If a majority of the 12-member panel agrees with Knievel's reasoning, the leap will be declared successful.
Despite Knievel's history of overcoming impossible odds, many panel members view the jump as reckless and ill-advised.
"With all due respect to Mr. Knievel, he is mad to attempt this," said Quentin Collins, a professor of applied mathematics at Yale University. "I almost declined to serve on the panel in protest of this utterly ill-conceived dance of cerebral mayhem. But I expect Knievel will learn a lesson he will never forget when his fallacious reasoning is sliced to ribbons."
"I worry every time he does this that he'll make a mistake and get hurt," said Robbie Knievel, son of the famous daredevil. "But this is what he wants to do, and I support him."
Safety precautions planned by Knievel for the leap include comprehensive, indexed copies of the writings of Plato; an intellectual "pit crew" of 10 world-class logicians and rhetoricians; and strategically placed fire extinguishers, in case the attempt goes awry.
"My mother always wanted me to get a normal job," Knievel said. "But I gotta do what I gotta do. I believe that this leap of the imagination is possible, and I intend to prove it."
Knievel stressed that kids should not attempt to imitate the stunt, and that it's "cool" to wear a bike helmet.
Knievel, who has broken nearly every bone in his body, gave up physical stunts several years ago and has since turned to more conceptual feats. In November 1995, he thrilled the world with a spectacular triple-leap-of-faith, in which he simultaneously joined the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, the Church of Scientology, and Jehovah's Witnesses, accepting in rapid succession the controversial beliefs of all three religions.
A month later, trapped in three contradictory philosophies, Knievel wrestled with existential doubt and rejected all three movements, staging a spectacular fall from grace seen by millions on pay-per-view television.
Knievel's recent career has not been without its setbacks. On April 15, 1997, at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, Knievel plunged headlong into a morass of complicated tax forms only to be trapped without the necessary personal financial information to complete them.
Emergency accountants intervened, pulling Knievel from the paperwork and completing the tax forms themselves before rushing him to an area hospital.
If successful Saturday, Knievel next plans to visit a Club Med resort in Ixtapa, Mexico, where he will attempt a daring escape from the dreary nine-to-five workaday world.