Brian tried method after method to prove the Collatz conjecture true, but every proof he came up with was flawed. He even studied defective proofs others came up with to see if there might be something he could salvage from them, but once he understood their methods he realized they weren’t much smarter than he was.

When someone suggested that he try proving that the conjecture could not be proven he felt defeated realizing he had no idea how to even begin proving something like that.

The problem with the conjecture was that it was so easy to state, and so obviously true, that the path leading to a solution seemed right around the corner, but no one could turn that corner. He imagined if he ever could then fame would compensate for his diminished sense of self-worth. The real problem, and Brian sort of knew this, was that even if he did prove the conjecture true, or prove it false, or prove it could not be proven either true or false, he would still need some other method, perhaps a transcendental argument or some other way to grasp that hand he wasn’t sure was even there reaching out to him, to overcome his ever present sense of existential futility.

I had to look this up. Over my head. Interesting of Brian to realize the insignificance in proving or disproving, and that it takes something outside of himself to do either.

I’ve never been a math “person” Frank, so I looked up “Collatz conjecture”. Wow! That’s why I can’t wrap my head around math, lol. However, reading about the “conjecture”, then reading your story, allowed me to arrive at the summation (yes, bad pun intended 😆) this was a most excellent Six.

Ha Ha. I had forgotten about that. I used to be good at math. I do not have a clue why I was. Between math problems like that and athletics, I learned you do not always win. But … you can enjoy playing the game. It is a challenge. What seems futile becomes fun. That is the freedom of Jesus.

Ha ha! I concur with all the comments concerning the impossibility of mathematics. Quoting one of my young characters: ‘I’m going to be a writer, what possible use could algebra be?’

The Collatz conjecture doesn’t have much use that I’m aware of except to keep people trying to prove it. Algebra doesn’t have a lot of use for most people. Thank you, Chris!

Two reasons: a) it re-confirms the mathematical insufficiencies that dwell in many of us and 2) you surely got any number of math nerds all excited by the sudden popularity of their websites as no small number of us Sixarians went out trying to figure out what heck the Collatz conjecture is.

This problem shows that all of us are mathematically insufficient. It is probably best not to know what the Collatz conjecture is lest one try to solve it. Thank you!

The secret to Scientific (or Critical) Thinking. Can never prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, only make your best guess. And therein lies the joy: the Quest!

I looked it up. It’s math. Math is impossible to handle so he shouldn’t take it so hard if he’s in over his head

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It is math and he’s in over his head. Thank you, Larry!

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I had to look this up. Over my head. Interesting of Brian to realize the insignificance in proving or disproving, and that it takes something outside of himself to do either.

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He will need something outside himself to overcome that futility. Thank you, Mary!

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I certainly was lost 💜

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I can’t solve the problem either. Thank you, Willow!

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😊💜

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What is Collatz conjecture? Whatever it is, Brian seems to be very serious about the problem.

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Yes, he is. Many are actually. I wish I could solve it. Thank you, Romi!

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I’ve never been a math “person” Frank, so I looked up “Collatz conjecture”. Wow! That’s why I can’t wrap my head around math, lol. However, reading about the “conjecture”, then reading your story, allowed me to arrive at the summation (yes, bad pun intended 😆) this was a most excellent Six.

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It’s over my head as well. Although I sometimes know when a proof doesn’t work. Thank you, Denise!

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Ha Ha. I had forgotten about that. I used to be good at math. I do not have a clue why I was. Between math problems like that and athletics, I learned you do not always win. But … you can enjoy playing the game. It is a challenge. What seems futile becomes fun. That is the freedom of Jesus.

Blessings. That was a great story.

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Trying to make sense out of such problems can be fun but ultimately, as you mention, we need the freedom of Jesus. Thank you, Michael!

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Frank,

Man’s conjectures are futile in arriving at ultimate, irreducible truths. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems prove that.

pax,

dora

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Good point about Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. He won’t get past the futility with math or logic alone. Thank you, Dora!

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Pure conjecture, Frank. 😉 Still, a guy called Einstein keeps proving he was right. Clever and deeply philosophical at the same time.

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That may be the fourth alternative: pure conjecture. Thank you, Doug!

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Ha ha! I concur with all the comments concerning the impossibility of mathematics. Quoting one of my young characters: ‘I’m going to be a writer, what possible use could algebra be?’

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The Collatz conjecture doesn’t have much use that I’m aware of except to keep people trying to prove it. Algebra doesn’t have a lot of use for most people. Thank you, Chris!

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Dude!*

Totally cruel of you to write this!

Two reasons: a) it re-confirms the mathematical insufficiencies that dwell in many of us and 2) you surely got any number of math nerds all excited by the sudden popularity of their websites as no small number of us Sixarians went out trying to figure out what heck the Collatz conjecture is.

well done!

…nerdlol

*compliment on an engaging Six/metaphor

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This problem shows that all of us are mathematically insufficient. It is probably best not to know what the Collatz conjecture is lest one try to solve it. Thank you!

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Math ugh. HA. Good six, made me think.

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It is probably best not to get captured by that problem.

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Math is ultimately over all of our heads, i think. That’s why we’ll never know all that is to be known about anything.

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We won’t ever know all there is to be known even about these math problems.

I liked Enigma as a cat’s name in your story.

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It seems Brian’s problems are much greater than the Collatz conjecture

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Yes, they are, but he’s hoping to solve them by solving it.

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The secret to Scientific (or Critical) Thinking. Can never prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, only make your best guess. And therein lies the joy: the Quest!

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They are only good for best gueses.

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But still better than a poke in the eye.!

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Wow thanks for this; I was blown away to see reference to Transcendental Argument here!!!!

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Brian may need even for than that. Thank you, Jim!

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True!

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I enjoyed this 🙂

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Thank you, Pragalbha!

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