In 1917, Johann Radon discovered a formula that is known as the Radon Transform. Although it was unused and forgotten until 1970, it became the key to making CT scans possible. While slightly rotating, a narrow band of X-rays is beamed through a cross section of the brain and an attenuation curve is graphed based off the average density of tissue each ray has passed through. By grouping together a large number of these attenuation curves, Radon Transform allows us to look at a three dimensional view of an organ, something that was not possible by X-rays in the past. Radon ironically died from cancer, a disease whose treatment benefitted the most by CT scans.
Thus, Radon showed us a beautiful way of the linkage of life and mathematics. Although we generally don’t view life in a biological point of view, each cross section, each point in a graph, no matter how miniscule or grandiose it might be, eventually becomes a part of bigger picture. Like CT scans and the Radon Transform, lives can be graphed and later we can see how a general view of this ‘organ’ and what ailment it was afflicted by.
I’ve seen lives look like a straight line. It is a constant measure of just going up or going down and once the domain of their function ends, the line just stops and they have reached the absolute maximum or minimum. There are graphs like parabolas. A person steps with the wrong foot, causing him to decline exponentially until they reach their relative minimum and later progress rapidly through life. Or it can look the exact opposite. In essence, a person’s graph is open to self-interpretation and can look like almost anything, in different powers, absolute value, or even an ellipse.
However, in the past sixteen years of my life, I felt that my life looked like an oscillation, a sine or cosine graph. Although the graph is constantly changing, eventually a point still finds itself in similar positions over time, and there is no true period of progression that you might find in this graph. And there is nothing worse than not knowing where you are going or why your life doesn’t seem to be ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’. It is unpredictable fluctuations that land you in the same place all over again.
I think such a pessimistic attitude about life started around when I was in kindergarten. I would remember going to the park often, like any other child, enjoying myself on the slides and swings. The slides would twist and turn and when I slid down to the end. I would get up and slide down it again. There have been many times, when I would get cuts and bruises from falling onto the woodchips or electric shocks from the current generated during the ride. Other times, I would feel a rush of adrenaline, despite all the dangers that came with riding a slide, I would feel nervous but powerful energy, which is why I would run up to slide down it again.
Same applied to swings. I would use force to gradually propel up to the right height. But after a while, I would get bored with the swings so I would leave them to play with something else, shortly coming back to absorb the same energy that those swings had when they were swinging repetitively back and forth. There were different kinds of swings, all with their incredible velocity that increased in magnitude and moved in different directions but went nowhere.
All this time, I would meet all kinds of people. The old man sitting in the park reading a newspaper. A girl walking her dog. The Vanessa-I-did-not-like from my class. The ice cream man. Catface (basically a homeless man I named when I saw some immature person decide to draw whiskers on him while he was sleeping.)
I went to the park several times. And I did meet many different people. None of them ever came, not even once, for a second time. And although I would still have fun going to the park all day, I felt I was confined to small space, where my 5-year old joys and pain were located at the time. And although I learned many different things while playing in the park, life still felt more static then ever.
Since then, I have met many different versions of me, crossed several different vertexes, felt several different feelings, but in the end, I was still at square 1, a four-year old child playing on the swings. All experiences and changes still constitute me of today, but I am truly no different than me of tomorrow or me of yesterday. I am still kind of in the same place.