Blog Post #143: Infinitely Precious ♥

Dear Colleagues, Students, Friends and All Readers,

Whether we already know each other, or not, my wish this Christmas for every human being is that each person will know that he/she is infinitely precious to God, our Creator.

Even if some of you might be younger than me, God thought of you (and me) long before I was born, way back on 13 June 1962. For simplicity here, if I were to count that official date on my birth certificate as my day #1, then today, 16 December 2022, is my day #22102. It’s a nice day on which to reflect back on 2022 and make sure that God is #1 at the centre–at the heart of my life–today and always.

Going along the cobbled Rue de la Croix that leads to the stunningly beautiful Musica Mundi School (MMS, where I am privileged to work as the Mathematics teacher with lovely students and colleagues) in Waterloo, Belgium, I paused yesterday morning to take some photos, because the breathtaking views of the land, the school, and the sky had God’s perfect stamp everywhere. Of course some things are man-made using gifts and talents that we have been given, but it’s good to recognise the true Creator.

Breathtaking views near Musica Mundi School ♥

Now, what about all the lovely people of the school community…? We currently have 40 students and around 43 staff members (including instrumental, theoretical, conducting and choir Music teachers, Academic subject teachers, and staff for Administration, Operations & Student Welfare). We surely have at least 100 other very good people to also thank for their wonderful support to the school ♥

I also had many other ideas in mind when, just a couple of days ago, I sent out the fun, open-ended, thought-provoking question, why do I write that “MATHS IS 183“?

Here in Blog Post #143, it’s fitting that 1 funny ‘Big Brother’ + 4 other teachers + 3 students will be starring with the creative answers that they sent in before I started writing this article 😊♥😊. Further down, I’ll offer my personal first idea, and some other still quite nice ones.

This kind of Maths can be very refreshing, because practically any idea from thoughtful children or adults is interesting to hear and to reflect on. There is certainly not just one ‘right answer’; the truth is that the good possibilities are infinite!

Guillaume is the school’s youngest current student, yet he was thinking until late yesterday evening, when he sent me his ‘answer’… Guillaume wanted MATHS to become a product M x A x T x H x S, with 183 as the target result. He realised very maturely that he could, for example, freely pick any non-zero number values for four of the five letters in MATHS, then calculate their product, after which the value of the one remaining letter would have to be 183 ÷ the calculated product. Guillaume liked the choice of starting with the whole numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5, after which the one other number value has to be 6.1, and it’s not far off being a whole number. His idea would work with an infinite number of different target numbers. Good thinking, Guillaume! Well done! 😊

Sophie noticed that the total number of characters in MATHS IS 183 is 5 + 2 + 3, or 10, and 3+8-1 also makes 10. Sophie’s idea there would work with lots of other numbers, too. Good job! 😊

Defne G. focused on 183 and wondered, had I turned 18 when I chose 3 as my favourite number?! I absolutely loved that thought 😊♥😊, and Defne was the only person to write in with the idea of splitting 183 into a two-digit number and a one-digit number. Especially at Christmas, I think of Joseph & Mary (two) doing their best to care for baby Jesus (the One to actually save everyone). You may ask, “Why particularly 18 and 3?”… An answer is coming soon…but apart from 183 in Maths, the Bible verse Matthew 18:3 is super-important: Jesus called a little child to His side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. “Believe me,” He said, “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

My ‘Big Brother’ Jan V.L. knows that 3 is my absolute favourite number, and Jens (another excellent colleague) remembered that I’m due to turn 61 on my next birthday. 183=3 x 61. Also, 3+6+1=10 & 1+0=1→”MATHS IS NUMBER ONE”! 😊 (Jens is actually a brilliant physicist, chemist and mathematician. We’ll hear of him again when I publish my solutions to Blog Post #142 in the coming days. Also, I’m intending to feature a beautiful brainteaser within Blog Post #144, soon 😊)

The Headmistress and Kate and David (also lovely colleagues at MMS) had essentially the same idea as each other, and the following words are from Kate:

“If you add the number of the position of each letter of the alphabet of the word MATHS together it equals 61. Mr. Mo is our MATHS teacher and his favourite number is 3. If you multiply 61 by 3, you get 183.”

(13 + 1 + 20 + 8 + 19) x 3 = 61 x 3 = 183.

Those are certainly fun ideas, but several of the adults quite rightly felt that there ought to be more than that to MATHS IS 183. After all, Galileo famously said, “Mathematics is the language with which God created the Universe.”

183 is a bit special because it’s actually the smallest positive whole number such that it, when concatenated with its next big brother 184, makes a perfect square number: 183184 = 428 squared. That’s a cute detail too, but still, is it really of significance at Christmas?

David (already mentioned above) was the very first to write in, and with two distinctly different ideas. His second one is particularly nice ♥♥♥

1 represents the Oneness of God

8 represents the Infiniteness of God

3–in Music, the ‘musical third’ is the interval symbolising Love = God

Paul & David on a school outing in 2021 😊😊

Personally, my principal idea was the following… Remembering that Maths is actually a universal language, instead of replacing letters by numbers…we can alternatively replace numbers by letters. I told you that I really liked Defne’s thought of seeing 183 as 18 3. Then, MATHS IS 18 3 becomes MATHS IS R C…to wish you and everyone a very blessed, merry CHRISTMAS ♥♥♥

With lots of love and kindest wishes as always,

Paul M😊twani ♥♥♥

P.S.

  1. Everyone at the school who sent in a nice answer in time will receive a ‘thankyou’ prize on Monday 😊
  2. All MMS colleagues and students are very warmly appreciated, and so there will actually be something nice for everyone there on Monday ♥
  3. Thanks to Wout for one of his lovely new thoughts this evening, that MATHS can stand for Maths At The High School, and in reply I congratulate Wout on being a really great MMS of MMS = Marvelous Mathematical Student of Musica Mundi School! 😊

Author: Paul A. Motwani

My name is Paul Motwani, but my colleagues, my students and their parents mostly call me "Mr. Mo"! My middle initial, A, stands for Anthony, because I was born on the official feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of miracles and of lost souls. I love teaching Mathematics and Chess, and giving fun-packed talks and shows in schools and clubs. The popular ingredients of Math, Chess, Mystery and Magic are my "Fantastic Four", and I give prizes too! I am an International Chess Grandmaster, and (loooooong ago!) I was the World Under-17 Champion. I am the author of five published chess books and hundreds of newspaper articles. I live with my wonderful wife and son in Belgium. I also love music, movies and puzzles. I blog at paulmotwani.com. My e-mail address is pmotwani141@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook, too.

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