Monday, March 15, 2010

Google Reader will be the Death of Me.

Between the articles that I subscribe to on Google Reader and the articles that my friends share, I'm processing over 150 headlines a day and full-on reading many of them. There's so much information flying around me every day, that I don't know how I have any room in my brain for what I'm learning in school! Lately, the math articles have been keeping me particularly occupied. Graphs, fractals, how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop(TM)...all are problems that I get sucked into and can't seem to pull myself away from for the sake of dishes or laundry.

Recently, I've been thinking mathematically about "Less is More." The thought that you could take away something and actually have more. I guess that it makes sense in a natural way...if you deadhead your flower bushes, you end up with more blossoms later. If you trim your hair regularly, you end up with longer stronger hair eventually. But how do you get that numerically? I've been mulling it over for about twenty minutes now and this is what I've come up with.

-6 < -4

Okay, the above statement is easy to see. Negative six *is* less than negative four. So, if you have negative four, negative six times...

-4 * -6 = 24

And 24 is absolutely *more* than negative four. Here's what bothers me about that. First, in our initial step, we're relying on the premise that less is less. We can't start with one condition and then end with the opposite...that's proof by contradiction.

Now, let's look again at

-6 < -4

Could this statement be false to begin with? Well, mathematically, no...or else the world would turn on it's ear, Pythagoras would roll over in his grave and Radiohead may actually deserve some academic respect. But figuratively, one could look at this in such a manner. For example, If I owed my son four cookies and you owed him six, you would actually owe him MORE than I do. Taking away less actually leaves you with more and that's kind of a nice lesson in and of itself.

What *is* mathematically possible, however, is that less of one thing could mean more of another. Less blue marbles in a jar means there is space for more red marbles. So, when someone looks at your choice in accessories and tells you "Less is more, hon." You can just look at them and say, "It all depends on your perspective."

1 comment:

David said...

I'll stay home
where two and two
always makes a five