Math as the existential factor

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Math as the existential factor

A student works out a math problem on the board.

A student works out a math problem on the board.

Gracie Fulcher

A student works out a math problem on the board.

Gracie Fulcher

Gracie Fulcher

A student works out a math problem on the board.

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It gets a lot of hate.

Repellent as rat poison, actually.

Anxiety, confusion, self-loathing, brain aneurysms, existential doubt, all common side effects of a negative reaction to those dreaded numerical riddles.

Math. If it were a person, it would be that really unpopular brainy kid that wears pocket protectors and won an international coding competition in preschool, but nobody can stand him because a) he’s allergic to everything, so now nobody can bring nuts, dairy, processed carbohydrates, sugar products, or anything too aromatic to class, b) he insists on personally checking and correcting everybody’s homework, and c) he has loudly recited passages from his leather-bound Shark Encyclopedia at least 17 times, sometimes to you specifically, while you’re in the bathroom.

Or would he be an omniscient spiritual guru?

To some, math is both internal exercise and external order.

“It’s logical..there’s always a tried and true method to do it,” said Alyssa Davenport, a junior in Mu Alpha Theta.

To others, math is music, the universal language.

“[A student told me] Math is worldwide, it’s gonna be the same everywhere you go,” said Ms. Jacobs, who teaches Algebra 1 Honors and CP.

But more than that, math is the structural skeleton, the bones of all that is or ever was. We use math to pinpoint what we are, where we are, and what we can do (why else are engineers swimming in cash?). It’s in the dirt. It’s in the stars. Gravity is a function of physics. Heat is a thermochemistry value. You can’t build rockets destined for infinity and beyond without knowing your basic engineering principles. Math is the order by which we exist within. And knowing that just might give you this funny little feeling of completion and understanding.

Same feeling you get when you actually did your math homework correctly.

Wake up and smell the irony.

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