Our Days Are Numbered
I have a vague recollection from years ago.
Actually, many of my childhood memories are fuzzy. Especially the ones that involve me screaming and running away from home.
My therapists and I are working on it.
But there’s one in particular that returned to me quite vividly today. It was a story about some mathematician who had been locked away working on a proof for YEARS. And finally, after all that time, he saw the solution.
At the exact moment that he put pencil to paper, completing the mathematical proof of the existence of God, a divine voice boomed from the sky saying something like, “It’s about time … Tag—you’re it!”
Something about that story disturbed me. Maybe it was that God would be found through math and not philosophy or art. Or perhaps it was the idea that some people were such nerds that that they worked on math proofs for years.
Either way, I thought it was just fantasy—until this week.
According to this story on CNN.com, a team of 18 researchers have completed four years of effort on a 120-year-old mathematical puzzle. All that work in order to—get this—map a theoretical object with 248 dimensions.
I don’t even know what that means.
And it turns out I’m not alone. As project leader and math professor Jeffrey Adams remarked, “To say what precisely it is is something even many mathematicians can't understand.” The solution to this puzzle apparently is so complicated that it involves more than 50 times as much data as the Human Genome Project—and, if written out, it would cover every inch of Manhattan.
Even the people who devoted their lives to this math problem admit that their calculation has no practical applications. Sure, some extremely mathematically inclined theoretical physicists and other such geeks are getting off on this … but the real world remains unchanged.
Unless we all wake up tomorrow to an odd booming voice saying “you’re it.”