That's Math! I Know Math! (No I don't)

The title is a quote from Jurassic Park, if you were wondering. A girl, chased by dinosaurs, runs into a computer, notices it's Unix, says "That's Unix! I know Unix!", and proceeds to hack something or other that lets her escape the previously mentioned dinosaurs.

Well, that's how life often feels for me, except with Math. And without dinosaurs. I am surrounded by trouble, something is completely broken in a way I can't quite get, things feel just slightly weird... and suddenly... that's math! I know math! (of course I don't know math, noone knows math. We all just know some math).

I may see an ad and notice the huge discount is just a cleverly disguised tiny discount. A snippet of news may reveal itself as complete nonsense after a cursory analysis. A forwarded mail may become slightly more annoying because of its obvious stupidity. Because of math.

Math is the tool I have to make sense of things. When the world gets confusing and scary, if it can be expressed in numbers, it calms me down. Afraid of the future? Let's consider the wonders of compound interest. Scared of death? Well, look at probabilities. Needing a little adventure? Well, there is game theory! Need a conversation starter? You can mention you once spent time in class figuring out the homeomorphism that explains the scene in Flashdance where the welder removes her bra through her sleeve.

Math tells me the world is not perfect. Math tells me the numbers I see on my computer are not really real numbers, and can't be trusted. Math tells me I can't cross all the bridges in Könisgerg only once. Math tells me the number one is the most frequent number in today's paper. Math tells me Plato was right and there is a universe of pure ideas, and this is but a reflection.

On the other hand, Math tells me I can cut an orange into a few pieces, which reassemble into two, identical, oranges. So take what she says with a grain of salt.


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