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.
Denise offers the prompt word “method” for this week’s Six Sentence Stories.