I used to imagine that solely phrases might seize the essence of the human soul. Stanzas of poetry posed questions on life and dying and every little thing in between. Items of prose contained tales so distinct and visceral they formed the best way we see the world. Phrases had been what composed the questions we sought to uncover and the solutions to these questions themselves. Phrases had been every little thing.
That perception modified.
What began off as a secular math class, slowly flourished into one thing profound. My trainer posed a easy query: What’s 0.99 rounded to the closest complete quantity?
Simple. That’s elementary math. When rounding to the closest complete quantity, 0.99 = 1. By some means although, equating the 2 values appeared deceitful. I believed to myself, despite the fact that 0.99 is barely 0.01 away from 1, there’s nonetheless a 0.01 distinction. That’s to say, even when two issues are solely slightly totally different, they’re nonetheless totally different, so doesn’t that make them fully totally different?
My trainer answered my query by presenting one other equation: 1 = 0.9̅ which can be expressed as 1 = 0.999999999999999…………… repeating itself with out ever terminating. These 2 numbers are fully, mathematically the identical, he stated, laying out the algebraic arguments to show his declare.
I let these numbers linger at the back of my thoughts as I continued on with my day. There was one thing ominous and eerie however on the similar time fascinating and awe-inspiring concerning the equation. The left facet was definitive, goal: it contained a quantity that terminated. On the suitable was one thing countless, a quantity repeating itself an infinite variety of occasions. One thing unfathomable. One thing huge. But, one way or the other, these 2 opposed issues had been related collectively by an equal signal. No, not simply related — the identical.
As I lay in mattress, letting existential angst wrap itself over me like a blanket, I considered how a lot the equation parallels our existence. Identical to the left facet of the equation, life itself is typically so definitive and so clear. The concrete, complete variety of the day you had been born. The terminating quantity that can sometime record the day you died. The definitive, predictive ending to life: dying. However then there may be that hole in between life and dying: the left facet of the equation. A time and area filled with infinite potentialities, sequences of occasions, and countless alternatives trickling out into the open, into the long run.
The universe appeared to agree with me as I attempted to go to sleep that evening. I appeared out of my window and gazed into area, immediately rationalizing how limitless it was. The endlessness of the celebs twinkling within the sky. The vastness of the hollowed out black sky that had the moon perched upon it. The area, the sky, the celebs — similar to the left facet of the equation. Infinite. Then my eyes flickered again to the ceiling. The roof of my room: explainable, terminating, a finite slab of concrete. This was the suitable facet of the equation pulling me again to actuality with the pressure of a black gap.
So possibly that’s what life is. Goal however imaginative. Chic however ominous. Terminating however, one way or the other, infinite on the similar time. Life is an equation with two sides that balances itself out. It’s a query, an concept that’s proposed to us that we ponder about and try to unravel. It’s one thing we all know exists.
Nonetheless, we will’t ever actually appear to place the proper phrases to it. So possibly numbers can actually categorical concepts as equally effectively as phrases can. Possibly numbers can clarify the world round us, whereas phrases can clarify the numbers themselves. Possibly they’re related by their very own equation.
For now, let’s depart it at that:
1 = 0.999999999999999……