I say the answer to the above is 10. But my math-wiz-friend, Chuck Greenia, says it’s “kind of a trick. In formal mathematics, multiplication and division are done before addition and subtraction, making the answer -80.” Sheesh! Formal mathematics sounds even worse than regular math. Okay, I acknowledge the answer is probably -80, unless it is calculated as presented, as a linear equation, which produces 10. The real answer is blowin in the wind.
1,000,000,000,000 x 0 = 0
I just wish someone would acknowledge the real elephant in the room: People in tuxedos are telling me I don’t exist because somebody crossed me with a zero. That’s right. Some formal mathematician, somewhere in the world, is laughing at us because when we multiply anything by zero, we get zero. We need to start a movement to eliminate the power zero has to negate even the most beautiful of numbers, which are never really only numbers, are they? They are often things, like three children or ten Cocker Spaniels. Is there no remorse for these things — possibly dogs or people — that (who) have been multiplied into oblivion by a seemingly benign, but oh so terrifying zero? That’s one sad story problem, if you ask me, which you didn’t. Zeros are the black holes of math. Jinka Knight Bloom points out that because we “have this thing zero times” then maybe we never really had it to begin with. She explains, “what if I have a three ZERO times? You have nothing. But What if I have a TEN zero times? …still nothing.” How depressing is that? What about the three poor little children or those cute Cocker Spaniels? Is it not better to have had and lost than never to have had at all? Zeros totally suck! For something that doesn’t even exist, zeros have way too much power. Talk about the awe and dread of nothingness!
So the real question we need to answer is why in math does multiplying anything by zero always have to make it zero? Who says? Can’t it simply be a suggestion? Can’t we just make it a little less of what it is rather than making it disappear entirely. Nothing should have that much power, especially a measly, insignificant zero. I mean, a zero is more powerful than Thanos, for God’s sake. How can nothing at all have the power to completely annihilate something else? It’s just wrong, I tell you. WRONG!
But what if what I give cannot be measured against what I take. I give my talent and I receive money. Or at least that is how it’s supposed to work. But we all know it’s not that simple. Some work very hard and make a minimum wage, while others do nothing and make millions, even billions. The quality of work is not even comparable. My painting requires more of a certain kind of skill than an abstract expressionist. But many would choose abstract expressionism over my expressive realism, because that type of skill is only one criteria for judging art. If I sculpt in metal, for instance, I must learn everything I can about welding. But everyone knows welding is not an art, except those who might rightly argue that it is. So the question is am I doing what I do, well? Or fully? Do I add or contribute anything that wasn’t already there, in my work? If I add nothing to something I should still be left with the same something. And yet, multiplying any of us, or our work, by zero and none of this matters.