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What a Wonderful World

Entry 916, on 2008-12-29 at 21:45:51 (Rating 1, Comments)

If you read through my blog you will often find a thread of negativity where I often talk about how corrupt and imperfect the world is compared with the lofty ideals I might hold for it myself. As an example, see my previous blog entry "The World is so Wrong" from 2008-12-25. Sheesh, that was from Christmas Day! What sort of cynical loser would post an entry with a title like that at Christmas! For that matter, who would be blogging at Christmas anyway!

Well those comments aside I want to be positive in this entry. The world isn't entirely a bad place. It isn't even necessarily primarily bad, because there are a lot of good things as well, which I want to talk about here.

I think most people are basically good, although they can be a bit weak and they can be too easily influenced by charismatic leaders (both religious and political). Of course there is a lot of bad in the world: war, murder, and other random acts of violence, but its important not to let that overshadow the good.

I think there is a lot of beauty in the world. I see it in everything from the more traditional sources, such as art and music, to the more esoteric areas, such as the magnificent universe, great engineering, and maths. Yes, some maths is beautiful: for example I love Euclid's proof that there are an infinite number of primes.

Euclid's proof that there are an infinite number of primes (by reductio ad absurdum)...

1. Assume there are a finite number, n, of primes, the largest being p(n).
2. Consider the number that is the product of these, plus one: N = p(1)...p(n)+1.
3. By construction, N is not divisible by any of the p(i).
4. Hence it is either prime itself, or divisible by another prime greater than p(n), contradicting the assumption.
5. QED

2 x 3 x 5 x 7 x 11 + 1 = 2311, is prime
2 x 3 x 5 x 7 x 11 x 13 + 1 = 30031 = 59 x 509

Isn't it beautiful that we can know something so fundamental about the Universe, with absolute certainty, by using such elegant logic?

So in my last blog entry I included the lyrics of a song which supported the negative ideas I was discussing there. This time I want to include the lyrics for a more positive song. Its Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"...

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

So listen to this song and still try to feel negative about things! The world is wonderful, and its important not to lose sight of that, no matter how much bad stuff we see on the news.

If you disagree try a few of these positive experiences: listen to some inspiring music (preferably classical if you know any); or study some great art; or look at some Hubble Space Telescope pictures of the Universe; or get yourself some great technology (like an iPhone); or, if all else fails, sit under a tree in a summer day (its mid summer and quite hot in the southern hemisphere now) and enjoy a good beer or a fine wine, like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc - yes, I find that alcohol often helps me concentrate on these things!

Its both a wonderful world and a terrible one. We should always remember that but don't concentrate too much on one or the other extreme.

Note: OK, that was quite a strange blog entry and think that's enough of that! Maybe next blog entry I'll get back into something more negative, like ridiculing creationists!


Comment 1 (1839) by SBFL on 2009-01-02 at 10:13:41:

Indeed, that post was a bit on the soft side...immediately prior I think it must have been a very hot day in Dunedin where you were sipping on some Sauvingnon Blanc under a tree and an apple fell down and hit you one the head. Hence the ensuing inspiration...

Was good to read the bit about Euclid´s proof. Last week I bought a book entitled "50 mathematical ideas you really need to know" (as a mathematics major I thought I should have some maths books around the house) and of course Euclid´s proof is detailed there. They even called it ´beautiful´ as well so clearly the wine has been flowing this festive season ;-)


Comment 2 (1841) by OJB on 2009-01-03 at 11:42:06:

Well the apple part didn't happen but the hot day and wine might have. Oh, and I was typing this on an Apple computer at the time!

So you are a maths major are you? That could be useful! I sometimes need advice and help with maths issues relating to programs. I'm a fairly casual maths user myself. I just (re)learn the bits as I need them. Haven't needed calculus for a while, for example!


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