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"Height, width, & depth are the three phenomena which I must transfer into one plane to form the abstract surface of the picture, and thus to protect myself from the infinity of space." Max Breckmann
Today we’re going to learn about math not mathing, a bit on our olfactory sensibilities, Thomas Edison, and somehow come away with a life lesson.
The Daily Rabbit Hole: We can smell rain better than sharks can smell blood in the water.
“… humans are 200,000 times more sensitive to smelling geosmin than sharks are at smelling blood.”
It’s always fascinating that we as humans are utterly delighted when we discover an animal is good at something. Think of the child-like wonder you had when you learned about bats using sonar to “see” the night, or the thrill of seeing an octopus change color to hide. We’re always impressed by the idea that another creature is extremely capable of something we thought to be impossible.
Yet when we pull back, the mere fact that we possess the ability to be awestruck is in and of itself a miracle. We are always caught up in what everyone and everything else is capable of accomplishing, forgetting that our own curiosity about these things is a superpower.
The ‘Wait, What?’ Vortex: The sum of 1+2+3+4 … all the way to infinity is -1/12.
“So what do you reckon the answer to this one is, Brady?”
“Well I would say it would go tend towards infinity.”
Me too, Brady. Me too.
We are all superheroes …
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not all wearing capes and tights meandering about a cinematic universe, but we are all more capable than we realize.
We will pin great achievements on one individual, failing to recognize the amount of effort it requires to keep someone alive up until their point of achievement. No one cares about the farmer who made it possible for Albert Einstein to eat, but they nonetheless contributed to the Theory of Special Relativity. If Einstein’s actual life were a movie, that farmer would get Craft Services credit as the acknowledgements rolled by at the end. We all play a role.
Thomas Edison’s legacy is all over the place.
He is either a prolific inventor, notorious thief, or both depending on how we choose to read the story of his life. Regardless of one’s point of view, we must recognize that he is the complete embodiment of one man receiving an inordinate amount of credit for what was truly a group effort. The invention of the light bulb is actually a near century long story, starting with primitive designs in the early 1800s and continuing until Edison produced a bulb that could burn for 1200 hours in 1880 - making him *technically* the inventor of the practical light bulb we know today.
Edison utilized the known rules of incandescent light (even purchasing some of them in the form of patents) in order to perfect it over the course of 1400 experiments, 300 different types of filaments, and twenty hour work days. This is a great example by itself, but Edison did not stop there. He went on to develop the entire system of rules by which these electric bulbs could be used by the masses, relying on pre-existing systems and others to make it happen. So many people helped, or even laid all of the foundation save the patent filing, and yet the fixation of history books is on him.
When we absorb the story more thoroughly though, the Wizard of Menlo Park, was actually just a wizard of threading others’ achievements together.
Many choose to view and dismiss Edison as a copycat or an identity thief after reading through a laundry list of accusations against him. I am not here to argue the historical lens by which he should be viewed, but I don’t want our personal views of Edison obfuscating something important for us to understand. If we played out the credits of those who helped in his life, they might never end.
So what exactly about this makes us all superheroes?
By seeking to achieve anything, we allow a multitude of others to claim their contribution. Our existence giving others reason to exist.
The next time you are presented with a difficult opportunity, embrace it. The more we press onward, the more inclusive we become. That is a superpower beyond comprehension.
Just like 1+2+3+4 … ∞ somehow being equal to … -1/12.
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