The concept for this blog was the synthesis of two elements:
- Many conversations with the most incredible woman I know, and;
- My passion as a math teacher, runner and lover of liberty.
Many elementary students, to some degree, are familiar with the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic. This is the theorem that states that any number can be written as a product of prime numbers. For example the number 30 = 2 x 3 x 5. 2, 3, and 5 are considered the prime factors of 30.
The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra is analogous to the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic. It states, in concise terms, that any polynomial can be written as a product of linear factors. Each of those linear factors of the polynomial contain a root, zero or critical point of the polynomial (depending on ones perspective at the time).
A polynomial function of degree four has four critical points. A degree four polynomial, with one term, has only one unique critical point, with a multiplicity of four (that is, the critical point is repeated).
The function f ( L ) = L ^ 4 has only one unique root, with a multiplicity of 4. That root is zero. Some may think, “how odd to title a blog with a function where the ‘answer’ to the problem is zero.” Perhaps. Or perhaps not.
To understand, we need to gather a greater appreciation of zero. Zero is not exactly nothing. Nothing is emptiness. Zero is a necessary number that when ‘discovered’ helped to make a complete, well-ordered and compact number system. Without zero, there would be a gap between what we consider positive and negative.
Even in set theory when we need to denote that a collection of objects contain nothing, we don’t use the symbol for zero, but a different symbol to illustrate that nothing belongs in the set (or, in the collection of objects).
That is the way I feel about L^4 or Live*Laugh*Love*Learn. As a human being I know that I take for granted what things really are. The meaning of zero. Or Love. Or Learn. And many other words, phrases and thoughts that I use in my daily life that I never realize their full weight until its too late.
We spent many pages texting back and forth (by many, I mean a large book many – we printed every one of them). I remember texting “…live, laugh, learn…”. She immediately texted back “and love…”. Soon “L to the fourth” or “L^4” became our code-phrase to represent our intention of wanting to speak about the grandness of something that defied our ability to communicate in spoken or written language.
Using Live, Laugh, Love, and Learn as the factors for a function, and then condensing the function to L^4, is a bit of stretch mathematically. Each of the entities – Live, Laugh, Love and Learn – are not the same values or defined the same way. But what they each represent cannot be easily separated nor can they be combined. Much like the most important truisms in life; they are better lived than abstracted.
Be that as it may, I believe there is still value in organizing knowledge to find patterns – with the goal of a more solid understanding of the daily processes that shape my life.
An interpretation of the four entities:
Live > an experience, example, or story. That is, the idea of existing, being, and breathing each and every day. As I learned from the Running Doc, George Sheehan, MD, the Greeks referred to this as the ‘escasos’. Much of what has been accepted as commonplace in mathematics needed first an experience, example, and data in order to be written down and accepted.
Laugh > this recognizes that we are human. We make mistakes. We err. Rather than be depressed or sad or angry about our mistakes we recognize that mistakes exist as a means of helping us clearly see what is right and what is wrong. And when we screw up the best thing we can do is to smile and laugh. From the Greek lore, this might be ‘aegon’, or in our words, agony. The struggle before the success.
Love > is to look for good. This meaning for love came from the wisdom of Denis Waitley, PhD. Much of my thinking in regard to life, relationships, and goals can be (partially) derived from his thinking.
Learn > move forward. To expand our growth. At any given point in time our perceptions of our reality may be a circle of some radius. Learn is the idea that we have the power to expand that circle, to increase the radius so that we understand more. Each individual has that power within and for their own self. Butler Shaffer contributed (partially) this metaphor from his book “Boundary, Claim and Order.” The Greeks have a word for this as well: ‘arete’.
This blog is dedicated to re-thinking how I interact, think and exist in the world, through the lens of science (or knowledge), with a perspective of what it truly means to Live, Laugh, Love and Learn.