Saturday, August 04, 2007

Numb3rs

Last week at work, I was given some different responsibilities that are in line with my "skill set" and I am excited about this. Our new executive director said he heard that I had an aptitude with numbers. Actually, it's more than an aptitude, it's more like a relationship with numbers. I love them all, they're like my little friends with their properties and their good looks. I like to watch them find their place in spreadsheets.

So Sharon & I started talking about some of the financial worksheets and soon I said something like, it doesn't even seem like money anymore. (I don't mean to suggest that we don't make any of our decisions at work without being good stewards of our resources.) This reminded me of when I was in my first week of actuarial training in my new job after college. My boss at the time was explaining accrued liabilities and present value of benefits and temporary annuity factors all to come up with a contribution amount, and I said naively, And is that money? I remember many times sitting in my cubicle playing with my little number friends to put these contribution amounts together and often times, when I saw the number that I would finally come up with, it would be a moment of instant recognition - "Hey, I know you!"- because it was a number of such beautiful properties or patterns like 123,321 or it rolled off the tongue like 88,878 and I knew I would then be able to call the accountant or CFO with this beautiful news.

Galileo said that mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe. I think it is our way of understanding or describing or explaining the order He has created out of the chaos which existed before creation. It's just another way to see beauty in the world He has made.

8 comments:

Alan said...

A wonderful post, as in "evoking wonder." It was said that Paul Erdős (I think it was him) was "a friend ofthe natural numbers" - biographies of mathematicians give this same sort of familiarty with numbers. Another quote I like: "God made the integers, all else is the work of man" (Leopold Kronecker.)

Jewels said...

Thanks Uncle Al, Are your friends numbers or chemical compunds? I suppose in a way, they are the same.

Alan said...

HaHa - a little of both I suppose.

Elizabeth said...

I love your colorful description of numbers. You have a way of making them come alive! What a wonderful gift!

Jewels said...

Maybe I should have been a math teacher!

Annette Selden said...

You were scaring me just a little bit up until that last paragraph, Julia. A nice language wrap-up for your number friends.

Jewels said...

Maybe you can understand math types a little better now, Annette

pearlie said...

Love the post! I like numbers but don't seem to be able to ask them out like you do though!! LOL
Like your mention of Galileo, God is orderly and it is seen in his creation.