Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The NEWEST and OLDEST things

This is an interesting question that involves math, values, perceptions and language. How do you decide what is old and what is new?

Is it the date and time of manufacture that determines age? 

If so, then electronic gizmos might be our newest items; after all, an iPhone4 has to have been made in the past 90 days...

 Is it when you buy something that determines its age?

In the automotive world, NOS (New Old Stock) parts are prized - they are "Brand New" but just discovered and being sold for the first time. Even if they are 50 years "old."

Is it when you yourself obtain something that the clock starts ticking?

"This car is new to me" or "I just got this 1950's prom dress"

There's no easy way to say what old and new mean. This is just one of the many ambiguities involved in mathematics! We have to address this in Excel Math, and in our everyday lives...

Examples
My wife and I have a small collection of icons. These are not little items you click on your computer desktop, but religious artifacts - paintings of Christian figures on wooden boards. They are meant to last for centuries, unlike the iPhone!

Here is the "oldest" one. It dates to about 1750, or before the Declaration of Independence. It was created in Russia. The previous owner was given it as a gift in 1917. I bought it earlier this year. It's old in most senses that we use the word "old".



Here is the "newest" one, a small icon of the Archangel Michael. An artist lady named Jacky created it in May 2010. I bought it from her on May 29th, so it's "new to this world" and "new to me" but it's not a new "image".


Here's the original image that it is modeled upon, which we think is about 700 years old. It's a very faithful copy, which is essential for Orthodox icons.


The very idea of the Archangel Michael is much older yet, since his first written appearance is in the Biblical book of Daniel which dates to at least 2200 years ago. I think I'll avoid the question of when he really came into being ...

Perhaps I am thinking about old and new because even though three of us at Excel Math are getting older (having birthdays soon),  Darcie who handles our telephone sales just brought in her brand-new baby girl. Here they are: