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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

January 2, 2012 - Numbers

By Scott Harrup

I’ve always been fascinated with numbers. When Dad bought his first digital calculator in 1975, I’d click on “2 x 2” and keep hitting the equal sign until the powers of 2 ran the eight-digit window into “error” mode. At 2 to the 27th power, 67,108,864 tried to double unsuccessfully.

Numbers stretch infinitely in both positive and negative directions, and continue infinitely in ever-tinier increments between any two points on a number line. In “The Colossal Book of Mathematics,” a collection of Martin Gardner’s columns for “Scientific American,” Gardner writes of “snowflake” shapes that allow for an edge to include ever-tinier deviations that add infinitely to the curve bounding the interior.

Then there’s the amazing conundrum of pi, which stipulates that for every unit of measure added to a circle’s diameter, about 3.14 units will be added to the circumference. What messes with my mind is the fact the ratio holds true even if the circle is as big as a planet, or a galaxy. An imaginary rope tied around earth’s equator — about 24,000 miles in length — only needs about 6.28 additional feet in order to float a foot away from the ground all the way around the earth (you’re just adding 2 feet to the diameter of the imaginary circle). That same 6.28 feet would lift an imaginary rope a foot above the circumference of the sun, the solar system, or even the Milky Way. Even at the galaxy level, just a little more than 6 feet and 3 inches of rope creates a foot of give for all those hundreds of thousands of light years.

Speaking of galaxies, scientists studying red dwarf stars (which are dimmer and about five to 10 times smaller than the sun) in elliptical galaxies now believe there are three times as many stars in the universe as previously estimated — about 300 sextillion (written out as a 3 with 23 zeros after it).

I’m amazed at the interplay of small and large numbers. Powers of 2 quickly max out a calculator, a geometric “snowflake” the size of a pinhead has an infinite perimeter, a little more than 6 feet of rope can add a foot of slack all the way around a galaxy, very tiny amounts of light analyzed in astronomical instruments point to the presence of an additional 200 sextillion stars.

That same interplay of the microscopic and the massive holds true in life, particularly from the eternal perspective of the life of faith. Think about it — a parent or a Sunday School teacher takes a few minutes to tell a child about Jesus, and that child makes a decision to trust Christ as Savior, with eternal consequences. That kind of miraculous connection between a moment and an infinite future takes place every time the gospel is shared with a receptive audience. God’s grace works in an instant to transform lives for endless eons to come.

We’re only two days into 2012. Imagine what will have transpired by the year 12012, or 102012 or even 1000000000002012. Believe it or not, what followers of Christ say and do this next year in obedience to the quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit will still be echoing positively in the lives of the redeemed.

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).

 

 

 

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