Irrational Numbers: A Fable

by Lorne Taichman

One day in the Land of Numbers, Zero and Infinity were having an argument. Each one thought he was more vital to the world of mathematics.  Infinity boasted that he was the largest number in the universe and that none could compare to that.  Zero took a more modest approach.  Zero said that, although he was nothing to speak of, he held a lot of power.  Any number multiplied by zero would be zero and any number divided by zero would be infinity.  The argument went on for what seemed like an eternity till all the other numbers, One, Two, Three, Four and so on had had enough and decided to put an end to this bickering once and for all.  The entire series of numbers met, chose One to be the spokesperson and called Zero and Infinity to a large community meeting.  When everyone had settled down, One spoke: “I may be only a one but I am the basis of all numbers.  I am not the only one who is special.  Two can divide into any even number.  Three makes a beautiful triangle.  Four is a perfect square.  There are five fingers on a hand.  Every snowflake has six sides.  There are seven days in a week …” One continued on and on explaining the importance and beauty of every number until Zero and Infinity grew weary and called a halt to the proceedings.  “Enough!” they cried and stopped their arguing.  Peace reigned in the Land of Numbers ever after.

Moral:   Every number counts


The. assignment for this week’s IRP Writing Workshop was to write a fable.  The thought of combative numbers for a fable came to me out of the blue on a numbing subway ride home.