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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Meaning of numbers (2)

I watched a TV series several years ago called Touch (2012). It was a fascinating series starring Kiefer Sunderland whose performance in 24 has made a strong impression on us. In Touch, he makes an equally strong performance where he plays a father whose son is mute but has a genius mathematical capacity and ends up communicating with him via numbers. Throughout the series we see them living their lives by observing numerical patterns everywhere, and the numbers they see dictate the rhythm and direction of their lives. Beautiful premise. Galileo once said that numbers were the language of the universe by which he meant that natural and physical phenomena could be modelled by using mathematical and algebraic functions. This laid the groundwork for Newtonian mechanics and all subsequent scientific developments (including theoretical/formal syntax). I wrote on a previous blog that I was fascinated by numbers, and ever since watching that series I have grown accustomed to noticing numbers all around me. I mentioned that in our Chinese culture the number eight 8 symbolises prosperity while the number four 4 indicates death and that these superstitious notions could be strengthened by the number ten 10. Whenever I see these numbers, therefore, I get somewhat agitated. I hate it when I see any permutation of the number four 4, whereas any presence of the number eight 8 really gives me a lift. To take an example, the other day I was queueing in the supermarket and ended up on lane four 4. I didn’t feel comfortable and immediately shunned it by moving onto the adjacent lane three 3. I was hoping that this could rid me of some bad luck. Another example- I was doing some reading the other day and I realised that I had left it on page eighty-eight 88. It boosted my confidence and lifted my mood for the rest of the day. It all sounds superstitiously silly, but sometimes paying attention to these small details can have a profound psychological effect on us. I realise that I have written three blogs in quick succession in the last two days. Perhaps it is time to shun the fourth one and give it a break, as I would not like to write four blogs in a row. See you all soon, I hope. PS: if you haven’t seen Touch (2012), I recommend it. It is not the best show in the world, but well worth watching, especially if you are into numbers like me.

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