Hypersonic Brainstorming

Yesterday evening during dinner, my wife C and I were talking to our daughter V, about what she learned that day in Kindergarten.

“About opposites,” she said and then, “The opposite of 6 is 9.”

We agreed.

That’s creative thinking. A visual mind.

I asked her, “What’s the opposite of zero?”

She thought for a moment and then said, “O.” As in the letter.
Again, a visually-minded creative thinker.

C said, “Actually, the opposite of zero is nothing. But zero is also the center of an infinite amount of numbers, both plus and minus , but you were also right because an opposite can be something that is very different from something else.”

After V was put to bed, I went to my desk in an effort to write. But after about an hour of staring at the screen, I decided I might do better to just find a comfortable position on the bed, notepad and pen on the nightstand, and do a bit of brainstorming.

It was almost 10 pm.

I thought a lot about the book and the next scene with detective Simeon and his new partner. I knew where I wanted to go, but for some reason “zero” kept popping into my head. The more I tried to keep my mind off of it the more vivid the image of zero became. I couldn't let it go.

I smiled when I thought about the dinner conversation and how V’s five year old mind worked. However, my mind wanted to grasp an image and wrestle with it. Trust me, I’m not a mathematician. I somehow managed to muddle my way through college level mathematics. Fortunately, my major, which was communications and film only called for a passing grade.

Despite my severe dislike for math and the fact that it was disrupting my writing process, I couldn't let it go.

The whole idea of it!

Zero is nothing, nil, zilch, but it still has to have a value. After all, it is the center of the infinite numerical universe. 

I thought about googling something as silly as, “What is zero?” It’d be easy. Everything I needed to know was out there. I didn't though, because for some reason I needed to sort this out myself. 

Maybe I was avoiding something?

I didn’t want to be influenced by anything on the web. As stupid as what I’ll probably come up with without the web’s assistance, I had to resolve it with what little I knew about mathematics. 

The value of zero?

It has a center role, but if you combine all the negative numbers with their positive counterparts then you’d have zero. Nothing. Zero sucks them all up. Also, when you add zeros to decimals, the numbers get smaller. And then, if you add it to the value of another number you make that number greater – 10, 20, 30… 

Zero is like superglue. It holds all the numbers in line, from left to right – infinity and beyond. It’s also something that is not a part of anything until it’s needed and when it is needed it makes the whole number greater. Without it there is only counting numbers one to nine and then you always come back to one. It seems to me that zero has a greater value than all the numbers. What else can be both nothing and something at the same time?

This went on for a very long time. My brain wouldn’t stop. Before I knew it, it was 6am. I had been up all night. All night, and without the assistance of anything like caffeine or whatever other substance might “legally” give you a serious boost.

All because of nothing.
It all worked out for the best, though. My brain got a serious workout and all the nonsense that had been stored in there is now gone.

It’s time to go back and stare at the screen on my laptop, hope for the best and stay clear of any conversation that might create silly, unnecessary clutter.   

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