E – for Elegance

We all (‘I mean the English speaking world’) know that ‘e’ is the most used letter of the English language. If you don’t believe me, then try writing a sentence without the letter ‘e’ in it. You will succeed, but the difficulty you will face will prove my point.

This letter has not only engaged me in my studies aiming for Excellence all throughout the school but also presented to me time and again and enthralled me with the beauty of the universe and the ingenuity of the human understanding. I wish to share with you my encounters with ‘E’ at various stages of my life.

My first encounter with ‘e’ was ‘E for Elephant’ in the kindergarten class but the actual excitement was when they introduced ‘E’ for Energy in grade V.  This physical quantity not only baffled me all through my school and college days, it still has its impact on me whenever I think of Vacuum Energy. It was amazing to know how Energy is all encompassing and omnipresent. For a boy from a religious family this was GOD in his eleventh avatar. Just dropping a ball from a height to the ground involved so many types of energy conversions, revealing the first law of thermodynamics. Hits me hard every time I think of this ‘E for Energy’!

It would be incomplete to mention energy without E = mc2, the magnificent equation that connects mass and energy through the stroke of Einstein’s genius.

The next mind boggling entity is ‘e’ for Electronic charge. This took my excitement in physics to a completely new level. The whole idea of how they measured the charge of an entity unseen, speaks volumes of scientists’ ability to understand nature. The value – 1.602 x 10-19 coloumb is something that I have not been able to understand completely. I feel the millions of electrical impulses firing in my neural network while writing about it. The one entity that is responsible for the entire universe the way it is!

During my high school days one formula that caught my attention was V + F = E + 2. This is the formula for Platonic solids or Polyhedra.  The fact that these solids existed since the time of Plato (5th Century BC) but this relation was discovered by Leonhard Euler (18th Century AD) when his eyesight was slowly deteriorating  shows the genius of Euler. As a student, these stories made me wonder how I wish I had Euler’s sense of the world.

When we were introduced to the base of Natural Logarithm, ‘e = 2.601’ – which was actually defined by John Napier but carries the symbol ‘e’ in honour of Euler – it struck me again that this was the same Euler that I had encountered during my school days. This ‘e’ seemed eternally present in Mathematics.

Summing up my journey with ‘e’, let me introduce you to the most elegant equation of Mathematics,   e + 1 = 0 – which connects various branches of Mathematics in one simple relation.I have been fascinated by this elegance of ‘e’, will leave you to explore it for yourselves.

-Sriraghavan S M, Co-Founder and President – Customer Relationship, BRAINSTARS

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