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Eventually, it adds up

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By John Pawlak

Today’s column marks my 200th submission of “But I Digress” to The Los Alamos Monitor.  
While this might seem an astonishing feat, it doesn’t take people who meet me long to recognize that my spouting off 200 opinions is anything but surprising.
 I was born with a speech defect and couldn’t talk until I was 11 years old.  After an operation on my throat corrected a windpipe abnormality - Presto!  I could talk!
And I haven’t shut up since.
Anyway, I asked my friends what I should write about to commemorate 200 rants.  I got some great suggestions, but ultimately my wife nailed it by saying I should just write about my one true passion.
Yeah, of course.  Math.  What else?
And what’s not to love?  The history of math reads like an epic saga of gladiatorial battles to conquer the universe of numbers.  It’s full of herculean efforts by early giants to understand the geometric symmetry and algebraic aesthetics of the world around us.
Mathematics is harmony incarnate.  When early mathematicians saw amazing patterns in numbers (like the sum of cubes equaling the square of the sum of the numbers), they would say,
“This can’t be a mere coincidence.  The gods are trying to tell us something!”


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