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The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia 
4/25/2019 




South Winds(Random thoughts) Life as an Exponent  April 09
I really shouldn't let myself get into any deep thinking before coffee. The other morning about three sips into my second, cup, I started thinking about how many twoletter combinations there were in the English alphabet. Hmmm, if there are 26 letters in the first row and 26 more letters in the second row... In its simplest form it would be, let me see... Find a piece of scrap paper. Scribble  scribble... 26 letters multiplied by 26 letters equals 676 combinations. Then I thought for each additional letter you added, the number of combinations multiplies by the number of letters again. That would have to be a bunch! So for three letters, the number of possibilities jumps to Scribble  scribble  scribble... 26x26x26 = 17,576. ¹ And if we had four letters it would be? At this point, I quit doing the math, but the coffee was kicking in and I had the concept in my head. I thought, "WOW!"
So every time we add one more factor to the mix, it makes the number of possibilities jump astronomically. About this time, I got to thinking about traveling through life and adding possibilities though chance meetings with people, taking a different road, or just changing one thing, each day. Even if that one change is just accepting a different outlook for any given situation. If I believe I only have limited options in my life, let's say two, get up or go back to sleep. If I only choose to look at each situation in life as black and white, or yes and no, I can only arrange them into a very limited number of possibilities. But for each additional option, placed in my life today I get an exponent. For each different way I allow myself to look at, or act on those options I get that multiplying effect again. If we introduce a new person, place or thing into the equation it multiplies once more. Just by trying one new thing it exposes us to a myriad of other possibilities. For each new person we welcome into our lives we start another pyramid. There is the classic theory of "Six degrees of separation", which proposes that every person in the world is connected to every other, by no more than six connections. Out of the x people we know, each of them knows y people, who know z people and so on. By the end of six levels we should be able to connect with anyone in the world. There is probably some hermit in Timbucoffthemapistan who we will miss, but the idea is a good one. The more experiences we have, or open ourselves up to, the more choices we have available, and the more options we are able to recognize as possible. For today, I will try to add [at least] one new possibility to my choices. I will meet a new person, make one change or accept a different outlook and multiply my possibilities many fold. Will you add one more choice to your life today? = FCOIT =
Footnotes:
¹The actual math is for illustration only For math purists there is the question of are whether considering combinations which would include reusing the same letter verses Permutations which would not allow for those and would only be unique arrangements. Although the number of Permutations is significantly less Both numbers are off the charts. Wikipedia accepts the simple formula for combinations and lists the number of threeletter combinations as 17,576
According to Hasbro / Parker Brothers there are 934 threeletter words legal in Scrabble.
SCRABBLE Word list used with permission from Everything SCRABBLE by Joe Edley and John D. Williams, available through the National SCRABBLE Association or at many local bookstores. For mental masochists or anyone cares about the actual math. For Combinations For 2 letter combinations
I tried to actually multiply this all the way out to 26^{26}, but my calculator ran out of digits. For Permutations The Math Page Precalculus section does a good job of explaining Permutations in depth. http://www.themathpage.com/aprecalc/permutationscombinations.htm Simple version  2 letters
Theoretical number of Permutations of a 26letter alphabet 26x25x24x23....3x2x1 = 403,291,461,126,605,635,584,000,000 And NO, I have no idea what that number is, A Gazillion maybe?
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