Letter to the Future XVI - Wonder on the Bridge

“Octonions are to physics what the Sirens were to Ulysses.” 
- Pierre Ramond, particle physicist, University of Florida


The story relates a picture of William Rowan Harrison strolling the Royal Canal with his wife, in Dublin, on an October afternoon in 1843, when some trap door in his head fell open and he slipped inside the room where quaternion groups live.

These are the mathematical constituents Einstein would use to model his universe; they are the result of cleverly pairing complex numbers, who themselves are the joints and joists of quantum mechanics.

Harrison beheld his equation and dashed to the nearby Broome bridge, so dazzled I imagine, that he carved the equation into stone, lest it prove flighty.

I mean to write about mathematicians more often.

I imagine their high hat triplet, their Jay-Z split syllable roll, to be fitting tangents to curves in four dimensions, or something of the sort.

Social Security: Why are we ignoring $1.2 trillion in Earnings?

Data: Social Security Administration. Chart: author.

Income earned beyond $128,000 per year is not taxed for social security. That's about $1.2 trillion, or 17% of national income.

On your paystub you'll find a line labeled "FICA" or "OASDI" (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust). That's your payroll tax and it makes you a sustainer of one of the most powerful social safety nets in world history.  With that tax on your earned income, you and your employer help to keep older folks out of the sort of poverty that crushed retired Americans before it was established in 1935 by FDR (Social Security), and then complemented by Medicare in 1965.

Consulate Murders and the American Standard

A journalist was kidnapped in his own consulate.

Emerging reports - which American officials have surely had for days - describe audio tapes provided by Turkish intelligence which record Saudi journalist, legal American resident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being beaten and tortured to death in some back room of his consulate in Istanbul, likely just adjacent to hallways down which functionaries typed away at their desks, approving visas, making tea.