by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
A complex number is expressed in the standard form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is defined by i^2 = -1 (that is, i is the square root of -1). For example, 3 + 2i is a complex number.
The bi term is often referred to as an imaginary number (though this may be misleading, as it is no more "imaginary" than the symbolic abstractions we know as the "real" numbers). Thus, every complex number has a real part, a, and an imaginary part, bi.
Complex numbers are often represented on a graph known as the "complex plane," where the horizontal axis represents the infinity of real numbers, and the vertical axis represents the infinity of imaginary numbers. Thus, each complex number has a unique representation on the complex plane: some closer to real; others, more imaginary. If a = b, the number is equal parts real and imaginary.
Very simple transformations applied to numbers in the complex plane can lead to fractal structures of enormous intricacy and astonishing beauty.
PROMPT May 11th
What was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now? Is there anything that has become cool in recent years that wasn’t cool in your youth?
What was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now?
Come on, you knew I was going to make that joke.
I gotta say, though, I don't know what's cool and I never did. The entire idea of fashion and popularity eludes me. I suppose the word "cool" itself might qualify. I'm pretty sure that this meaning of the word came about as part of whatever counterculture was prominent at the time, and it's been switching from cool to cold and back again ever since.
One of the idiosyncrasies of English is how some words can mean their exact opposite also, as with "cleave." Such contronyms must be nothing but confusing for those poor sods who have to learn our language. Another is that words for opposite concepts can come to mean similar things, as with "cool" and "hot." And meanings can change over time; I'm told that the original meaning of "nice" was closer to how we use the word in sarcasm today.
I do remember that one thing we did a lot of back when "groovy" was a thing was for kids to ride in the back of pickup trucks, or in cars without seatbelts. Do that now, and you get your kids taken away.
Honestly, I'm not sure how any of us managed to survive.
Some changes have been for the worse, sure, but I don't ever want to be one of those old guys who bemoans the loss of some bullshit "good old days." We have a lot more respect for nerds today than there once was, for instance. Learning science and math has become cool. There's tobacco, which has gone from cool to not-cool, and cannabis, which has gone from not-cool to cool. At least in mainstream culture; in La Résistance, it's always been cool.
The only certainty in life is change, and it's best to try to stay cool about it. And yet some things endure; sunglasses, for example, have always been, are, and always will be, the Platonic ideal of cool.