I am a huge fan of numbers. I love statistics dearly and enjoy any sort of comparative diagram. Especially when dealing on the astronomical scale, the reality of how small I truly am is very exciting and opens doors in the mind that are difficult to get ajar. They never seem to open wide but just trying is such a treat.
Mathematics, is at its heart, the only subjective truth in the universe. At least that I know of so far, it is this subjectivity that gives it beauty to me. It is difficult to tarnish math, one of my favorite quotes about this says “Statistics don’t lie, People do.” Math is a sanctuary, a land one can travel that is not tainted by morality, or belief, it is something of solid true objective meaning. Math will never betray you and as long as you are willing to learn it will open a seemingly infinite number of doors. Man…back to that door metaphor.
Admittedly this is not really an examination as much as it is a love letter to math. Which I believe is a bit ironic because I am not a stellar mathematician. I love a good excel sheet, I enjoy calculating things in my head, and I am all aflutter when I see a new time to make a complex formula. But I am, perhaps hypocritically so, not good at the highest levels of mathematics. This creates a deeper wonder and desire to learn it however, to see numbers in their full beauty.
Astrophysics and Fractals are two of my favorite examples of mathematics. The first because as I had mentioned before astronomically large numbers excite me. Visually let me grab a picture:
This image is of an “Earth Sized Hole” that was left on Jupiter after a Meteor Impact. The entire Earth, this massive swath of rock that we call home. The surface that more than 6 billion people all live upon. Millenia of documented human history have transpired on. All of this is but a mere spec on a slice of Jupiter. The staggering difference in sizes, those massive differences in numbers. That, I believe, is true beauty.
To continue on this Earth Jupiter topic, let me grab a few other numbers. I weight about 135 lbs on Earth. If I was on Jupiter I would weigh 319.5 lbs! Gravity itself requires an intense amount of matter for you to feel the results (just think with the entire size of the Earth it is merely holding you against the surface, not even crushing you to a pulp). That said, Jupiter has enough extra mass to more than double my weight! 2.3x heavier if you were curious (roughly). Speaking of mass, Jupiter contains 300 times the mass of Earth. If that doesn’t metaphorically crap your pants I honestly don’t know what will. Just try to grasp that, all the mass of earth replicated 300 times! I can’t even properly visualize the full surface area of my city, let alone my state, or my continent, or the Moon or Earth, and here is an object that dwarfs us to a point of obscurity. The diameter of Jupiter is insane as well being over ten times that of Earth. I would have a 30 foot wide waist if that were the case, which would make it very difficult to fit through…doors. Unless I stood sideways, however our hallway is only about 10 feet across. Which raises more issues.
I’ve shown before the pale blue dot, an image of the Earth where we are a single pixel on a massive picture of space. A single spec of light emitting from a vast unknown. When thinking about Jupter, and how it dwarfs our size. Even Jupiter is but a child in a room of adults. Our sun could swallow Jupiter hundreds of times over (an understatement).
So here we are. Examining a marble, that marble an object 300 times the size of Earth. That Earth ~1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 times larger than the average person. These numbers all becoming awash in our minds. Or at the very least mine. These things are astounding, nearly unimaginable (I try to stray from impossibilities), yet numbers can swallow up these things and produce manageable data. This is the ultimate power of subjectivity, the ultimate beauty of mathematics, and one of the reasons I get a cognitive ‘boner’ every time I’m presented with data. It also gives me another reason to remind people why they are so inconsequential in size and why that is not a bad thing :).
Update: I would be remiss if I didn’t plug a few of my Fractal Artworks while discussing the beauty of Math:
Coming this Week on TheIOS:
ADIOS: The King of Spes: Votum.
IIWP (If I was President): Taxation