The Secret Life of Integers – Who Knew?

Emily Nussbaum starts her New Yorker review of the TV show, The Walking Dead, this way:

“At two hours, a zombie movie provides a bracing shot of nihilism.  Zombies aren’t so much monsters as they are math, after all–seething, surging, interchangeable integers.  Some go fast, some slow.  Some are funny, some scary.  But if the premise stays pure no true happy ending is possible, and, before you’ve even had time to absorb that fact, everyone you loved will be dead or lost in grief forever.”

Who knew?  “Seething, surging, fast, slow, funny, scary, no happy ending possible.”  These adjectives are not commonly applied to the integers. I might use orderly, paired, sequential, steadily increasing, regular, infinite.  I could go so far as mysterious, unending, unpredictable (the primes) but I have never met a seething integer or a funny one.  I wish I had.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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