String Theory, Email Threads, and Happiness

Our lives are made up of millions of threaded moments in numerous conscious and subconscious dimensions. Identifying these threads – from multiple emails to time volunteering to a loving relationship – and making them last, making them stronger, and weaving them through multiple life dimensions is a key to health and well-being.

String theory attempts to relate multiple disparate concepts about our universe into a more unifying framework. Specifically, it states that subatomic elements (electrons, quarks, bosons, etc) are not three-dimensional objects but rather are one-dimensional strings that vibrate to take on semi-measurable characteristics (mass, spin, flavor, charge). Additionally, string theory posits that our universe is made up of unobservable dimensions that, at the most basic level, provide some sort of logical consistency to the known laws and theories of the physical (and metaphysical) world.

Well on a more macro level, our lives are very much made up of strings and dimensions. For our purposes, let’s just call them threads. Threads are made up of several connected points spanning one to many dimensions of our lives. These threads are our conversations, our friendships, our good deeds, our actions, and our spontaneous thought streams – the basic units by which we live our life. Our life dimensions are our jobs, families, friends, teams, systems, cultures, and countries, as well as our core knowledge, ideas, and feelings  – the encompassing elements by which our lives fundamentally exist. And finally, our lives have outputs too! They are our health and our well-being, our happiness, our faith, our understanding, and the meaning we extract from the world.

Think about some threads of your life:

  • Email Threads – Maintain a steady stream of conversation to build new knowledge, ignite new thought, and establish a strong connection with someone.
  • Volunteering – Show up when you don’t feel like it, encourage others to work harder, and continually establish yourself as a reliable and dependable contributor to society.
  • Love & Relationships – Always give to, and never give up on, the ones you love most in this world.

So now to the crux of my point: these life threads are the critical inputs to ensure our happiness and well-being are properly sustained, cultivated, and shared. By identifying these basic units, making them stronger, tying them together, crossing them through multiple dimensions of our lives, and “vibrating” the heck out of them, we can collectively share happiness and good faith as a society through better relationships, systems, and mutual understandings. Seems chaotic, yes, but in chaos there is a natural simplicity. Said the great thinker and founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”

Thanks to for use of the image.

Everything Is Connected

Whether it’s love and hate, birds and weather, past and future, or me and you, there are connections – both hidden and in plain sight – in everything. More than ever, we are finding that the world is a web, and I’m not just talking about the internet. That being said, the internet does help us bring some new connections to the surface through data sharing, communication, and information retrieval.

Math is a valuable support mechanism for these types of connections, especially when credible data exists that is representative of both sides of the river. It often can build the bridge to connect the shores, although it cannot always build traffic between the two.

I’ve posted before on the connections of seemingly unrelated phenomena. How can we determine where connections should (and should not) exist? How can we determine the strength and impact (both direct and potential) of such connections? What are the implications of humans controlling such connections and manipulating the bare characteristics by which some things are connected? These are questions to which we may never have an answer, but it’s important to at least ask the questions and attempt the answers. You never know where a new bridge might appear.

Whether its physical, metaphysical, mathematical, sociological, technological, chemical, theological, biological, philosophical, etc. the connections do exist. To start, we know scientific law covers the physical: Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation tell us that every object in this universe attracts every other object with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. For the others, well, let’s just say the bridges are infinite and are always under construction.

People Studying People

Society is people. Whether it’s business growth, intellectual advancement, government, mass media, artistic culture, knowledge transfer, sports successes, health care, economic development, or charity, it all starts with people. Therefore, in order to learn about how society is shaped and how it can change, it’s imperative that we learn as much as we can about the people who have come before us.

One purpose of my blog is to organize information about influential people of the past and present to try and pass this information on to others. Adsideology very much follows this notion – that life is about people, and we should study people to become people. I do recognize that the more diverse the people, the more wholesome the information gained. However, I’ll probably start with some mathematicians as I’ve recently bought a few books on the great ones in history.

As a start, let’s think of some numbers. Solely focusing on Earth, how many people have ever lived? Most estimates fall around 100 billion total. The interesting note about this number is that with a current population of over 6.7 billion, this means that almost 7% of people ever born in the history of Earth are living today. In other words, only 93% of people ever born have ever died! Pretty wild to think about, right?

On Knowledge Innovation

I want to quickly mention a correlating note regarding knowledge innovation for the future – how new thought can best be stimulated given the current state of society. It is clear that one pillar of innovation will always be people – the human component. Even in a world growing in reliance on information services, the human component will always remain. I’ve posted previously on the need for the human component in future mathematics initiatives as well as the need for expanded human intervention for optimized search technologies. The fact is, the human component will always be there. Common sense, yes, but commonly understood, maybe not.


life’s keys

life’s keys
by kevin berardinelli
october 20, 2009

There’s a key to being happy
etched deep within your soul
to find this key and use it
should be your lifelong goal

It’ll open doors to friendship
and show the world you care
life is only as pleasant
as the smiles that you share

There’s a key to finding love
found deep within your heart
the thump and beat will echo
when shot with Cupid’s dart

Although the road’s not easy
and the signs are never clear
embrace the path to get there
and the key will soon appear

There’s a key to growing old
found deep within your mind
a key to understanding
that starts with being kind

A simple thought or question
or lending a helping hand
reminds us that we’re all
a part of something grand

Though these keys may seem absurd
and taxing to obtain
the lesson here is crucial
and actually very plain

Look deep within your self
for guidance every day
your heart and mind and soul
will ne’er lead you astray

life optimization through estimation

The ability to accurately estimate a target value is an asset to any brain. Learn to hone this ability, embrace it, and use it to optimize your life.

Our lives are surrounded by invisible data – most of it in units of time, energy, space, and money. Essentially, our brains are huge folded databases that store this data, and use it to make decisions, plan ahead, and live each day. But as with many types of data, there exists some uncertainty about that data. Unknowns about how long, how big, how much, from where, until when, should i, almost enough, maybe tomorrow… well you get the picture. Our life data is filled with unknowns.

That’s why estimation is essential. Without it we’d get lost, fall behind, and lose our sense of security and awareness. Whether we know it or not, our brains constantly work to estimate and approximate values, given set of life data at that moment in time. And whether we know it or not, our brains run predictive models to assess hypothetical scenarios, basically using present life data to predict future life outcomes.

These are important realizations, and strong connections of human nature to an innate mathematical realm. Estimation is both an art and a science, as it takes creativity and thought supported by various numerical methods. Having the mathematical ability to estimate proves useful in most situations, but without the artistic component, you lose the ability to understand and contextualize your estimation.

The main point here is that estimation should be embraced as part of human nature, supported by numerical methods. This is how we can optimize our life – by recognizing the units with which our lives are measured each day, and reducing as much uncertainty in those values as humanly possible. It will not make you completely successful and happy and secure, but it will get you close.


Here are some random examples of estimation from my life. The methods of estimation vary, but the fundamental questions being asked all have outcomes of an unknown nature.

1. Shopping: Budgeting $150 for a dinner party, break budget down to categories of purchases then allocate funds accordingly. Estimate totals and percent of total budget category to make decisions on necessity.
Outcome: Go bigger on the dinner and ask a couple guests to bring desserts.

2. Sports: Ten minutes left in the game, down by 2 goals. Have two full lines of players so will sub soon and again with 4 min left. Need at least 1 goal every 4 minutes leaving a 2 min buffer to protect the tie and go for a win, should allocate 60% of strategy to offense and 40% to defense for next 8 minutes. If I’m in for 6 min and need 60% offensive mindset, how inclined should I be to make a run towards the goal, leaving my defensive position?
Outcome: Win

3. Personal Finance: How much to take out at the ATM? Need to estimate expenses for the week – lunch, happy hour, gas, dinner, cab to meeting, etc. How often will I use my credit card? Am I more inclined to spend if I have cash? Will I be near another ATM this week if I need more cash? How conservative should I be in my spending given the holiday season is arriving?
Outcome: Take out $60 and bring lunch.

4. Daily Planning: Got a hour-long meeting at 3:30pm, soccer game at 6:30pm. Assuming there will be traffic, it will take me 35 minutes to get home then 5 minutes to change, 10 to heat up leftovers, 10 to eat, and 15 to switch and fold laundry. Need 25 minutes to get to field and 15 min to warm up. Will I have enough time if my 3:30pm meeting goes long or do I need to put off the laundry and/or dinner?
Outcome: Always put off laundry, but never dinner 😉


Estimating how much gold there is in the entire world
Estimating how much money there is in the entire world
Estimating the height of anything using geometry
A bit about estimation in statistics

happy havens

We all need something – a haven – through which we can rid ourselves of stress and pain and renew our mind and body.

Stress is a part of life. So is pain, sadness and sorrow. There are times when we feel really small – when we don’t have an impact or don’t matter that much. There are times when we feel big – the world is closing in on us and we are at a breaking point. That’s when we all need to find a haven.

A haven is a place to go – physical, mental, or spiritual – where you come back to your own self, to your most simple and purest form. It’s a place of refuge or rest. It’s a sanctuary for your mind, body, and soul.

There’s a funny thing about life, that feelings can change in an instant. Good days can turn bad with a frown. Bad days can turn good with a smile. With that, we must know that when we are in a rut, there are places to go that can always pick us up and renew our spirits. Places where you can refresh yourself and turn you back into you. Places where you can root the weeds and plant some seeds.

A haven is…
…a place that spurs rejuvenating, creative thought.
…a person that gives you the love and joy found nowhere else.
…a feeling that, when absorbed, squeezes out the immediate stresses of life.
…a view that brings you back to the “big picture”.

A haven is not…
…somewhere to just be alone – havens can be for couples, families, and larger groups.
…one place or thing – it may be the right combination of feelings and surroundings.
…unchanged – havens can be dynamic through time.
…something you have to find – many times it will find you, at the right moment and right time.

A few havens of mine:
Seeing the stars at night or the sun at dawn.
Knowing and feeling love.
Thanksgiving dinner.
Funny dreams.
Fall foliage, cool breeze, mountains, and the serenity of nature.***

In the end, it’s important to know that these places and feelings exist, and that at many times in your life, happiness is only a haven away.

***Picture at top is from last weekend in Blue Ridge Mountains / Shenandoah Valley with Christine. The foliage and scenery were absolutely beautiful and we had a great time at Wintergreen Resort – highly recommend it!

the many faces of vision

According to Wikipedia, “analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it.” Much of math and science is the same – breaking a large problem into smaller components as a solving technique. We can apply that same technique to gain a better understanding of a words, phrases, and concepts, as I exemplified with the earlier digestion of an Emerson quote.

In most dictionaries, in text and online, the word “vision” has several definitions. Most simply, vision is sight. In business, visions are lofty, longer-term goals of a company. For some, vision is perception, intuition, foresight, and perspective. For others, visions are dreams, ideals, hallucinations, and objectives.

For me, vision encompasses the thoughts, feelings, goals, and desires of an individual to reach an optimal state regarding their self, their groups, the world, and beyond. NOTE:”Groups” refers to a circle of friends, local community, company, class, charity, family, neighborhood, geographical region, political party, etc.

To dive deeper, let’s answer three questions about vision with word lists:

1. What makes vision impaired?
Violence, Stress, Selfishness, Ego, Prejudice, Doubt, Ignorance

2. What makes vision repaired?
Silence, Selflessness, Faith, Consciousness, Awareness, Reflection, Solitude

3. What makes vision shared?
Expression, Compassion, Understanding, Appreciation, Gratitude, Respect, Graciousness, Collaboration

By creating word groups for these types of questions, we can better understand the mechanisms by which our visions can be diminished, restored, and maintained. We can see what stops the train, what can get it back on the tracks, and how to get more people aboard.

And even though vision may be defined differently for each individual, I think we can all agree that the definition includes some sort of internalized thought applied to the external world. Bound by this attribute alone, we can gain collective insight as to how we can read the many faces of vision.


“Selfishness is vision impaired, consciousness is vision repaired, and graciousness is vision shared.”

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” – Joel Barker

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

“Vision looks inward and becomes duty. Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upward and becomes faith.” – Stephen Wise

geek speak

Modern investment in math and science education requires the subjects to evolve. Most of that evolution should be in the language and culture to make it more connected to society.

Historically, math and science have had their own language, so to speak. Geek speak – complex phrases and nerdy nomenclature have made it a world in which one must be “admitted” (no pun intended, although it surely can be crazy).

I’ve spent the past three years in a technical and scientific environment, and the majority of my academic years with strong focus in math and science. It’s clear to me that bubbles form from which the admitted can rarely escape. That’s because there is a standard by which many professors, scientists, mathematicians, and researchers live and it includes living the language of their subject. But for me, the teachers and mentors that have had the greatest impact on me were those that could speak plain English to me while still teaching the concepts and theorems without loss of transmitted information. They successfully connected plain English with geek speak.

Naturally, within any subject, company, or even group of friends, it’s expected for a lexicon to be developed and learned. It’s important for that standard dictionary of terms and phrases to exist as it creates the social networks and communities that fuel collaborative innovation. But again, those bubbles need to have a more permeable film, to allow a constant admission of newbies no longer deterred by a language barrier.

A recent Sept 2009 Wired Magazine article talks about this, particularly for those in middle and high school. Author Daniel Roth states, “If we want to reform education, we have to make it cool to be a geek.” This is exactly the point. Connect the notion of fitting in with the realms of math and science by connecting the languages and the culture at specific educational levels. If nerdiness can become a part of everyday life, the bubble will not only expand but the film will become more permeable. The positive results will be seen in technological advancement, discovery, and common understanding.

To conclude, the ability to communicate complex concepts and theorems in a way that’s easily understood by a new learner is essential. It’s essential for building a more connected society – one with greater educational opportunity and understanding. In other words, the societal congruence at time t will optimize the combinatorial pathways for achievement at time t+1.

measuring the balance of human life

Can we measure the balance of human life? Perhaps not with 100% confidence, but we can certainly think about the factors contributing to the state of the system at any moment in time and see where the scale might be tipped.


As students, we learn about the critical role of balance in science, economics, politics, art, and every other subject. Think about chemical equilibrium, energy conservation, supply and demand, political checks and balances, atomic neutrality, mathematical parity, and artistic symmetry. As individuals, we constantly stress the need for a balance in our personal lives. Think about work and family, business and pleasure, excitement and relaxation. Physical components such as those in the first list are measurable, giving us the ability to understand, track, and predict the state of the system. On the other hand, the second list is quite abstract and is mostly qualified by our own personal well-being, the well being of those around us, and the influence on our surroundings as a whole.

So how close can we get to measuring the balance of our personal well being? Let’s run with Ockham’s Razor and try and make it as simple as possible. Consider this statement: the optimal balance of life is when what you take from it is equal to what you give to it. What does that look like?

What You Give
Contributing Factors: Advice, Assistance, Business Opportunity, Care, Directions, Donations, Empathy, Feedback, Friendship, Guidance, Hard Work, Philosophical Thought, Prayer, Product Innovation, …

Notes: It’s all good. There is an infinite amount of mechanisms by which you can give to society, environment, others, and life in general.

What You Take
Contributing Factors: Awareness, Consumption, Control, Crime, Emissions, Faith, Goods, Greed, Growth, Land, New Ideas, Pain, Reflection, Self-Satisfaction, Understanding, Vacations, Waste, …

Notes: There are many bad ones here, but some are obviously necessary and should take the majority of the weight, such as awareness, reflection, and understanding.


Units of Measurement: There are concrete and abstract units through which we might measure what we give and what we take.
–Money – Something upon which we are all dependent.
–Time – Something by which we are all bound even though it is out of our control.
–Text, Speech, and Emotions – Can we measure the impact of our words by the resulting sentiment of readers and listeners?
–Acquaintances, Friends, Colleagues, Contacts, Followers – For certain personality types, does the size of an audience have any relevance?
–Quality of Life Factors (Ambition, Happiness, Health, Life Expectancy, Strength, Well-Being) – The toughest to measure, but the most important to global well-being.
–Dreams – Can you measure balance in life by analyzing what your dreams are about?

Deviations from Zero & Tipping the Scale: What does imbalance mean?
–Positive Case – If we give more than we take, we are left with an internal hole. Perhaps we are absent of understanding or self-awareness, or of our purpose in the world.
–Negative Case – If we take more than we give, our impact is diminished and it leaves our surroundings with less to gain.

Collective Balance: Perhaps balance is not to be determined at the individual level but at the level of societal groups and organizations.
–Family – Does your family collectively balance the give and take of life? Is your family happy, stable, and sufficiently contributing to the well-being of other families?
–Work – Does your work collectively balance the give and take of life? Does it contribute to the well-being of society as much as it takes for business growth and distributable profits?


Balance is important. We know that. But perhaps because it’s difficult to measure, the real importance falls on understanding the contributing factors to the state of the system. Like a Jenga tower, pulling pieces must still keep the tower standing.

Finally, we must think about at which organizational level we can best understand balance in human life, and where the ideal equilibrium should exist. By breaking it into its simplest components and visualizing harmony, hopefully that’s exactly what will result.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton