The Mirror Boy

Originally published on 5/7/2016

mirror-937737_1280
Kaz via Pixabay

There is a boy in my Calculus class who shall remain unnamed. Let’s call him Ben (what my parents planned to name me if I was a boy).
He is exactly identical to me, yet he is my exactly opposite.

On the surface, we seem very much alike. We both possess chicken-scratch handwriting and acne so thick it may be mistaken for natural skin color. We earn nearly identical grades and hold the same class rank (mine for the class of 2016, his for the class of 2017). We are both “chill” and use some of the same phrases. We both have trouble with sleep (hence the title “insomnia” posts). We even dress similarly, wearing the same gray-colored jackets each day no matter the temperature (it’s always cold inside the school).

But here’s the thing about a mirror: your mirror reflection looks exactly like you, while also being completely reversed. We are nearly identical in traits, but remain polar opposites in character and behavior.

Ben sleeps in class, and I won’t even whisper while the teacher is speaking
Ben spends the last few minutes playing phone games, and I study
Ben laments for his lack of motivation, and I can’t find time to fulfill mine
Calculus and arithmetic come naturally to Ben, and I spend hours studying.

This reminds me of the four-category graphs I’ve encountered (mostly via my brother). Graphs that have two spectra, one for the y axis and one for the x. For example, the Political Spectrum whose two spectra are: size of government (authoritarian vs libertarian) and political orientation (right wing vs left wing). A democrat and a republican can be opposite on the x axis (one is right winged and one is left) while being identical on the y axis (both support more authoritarian government). Two political candidates could be extremists, yet extremists in favor of completely different policies. Their ideologies differ, but their actions are the same: increasing the power of the presidency.

Why did I go off on that tangent? Well, I suppose Ben and I are on a graph with two axes. Say appearance and traits are on the y axis (casual/nerdy is positive whereas uptight/preppy is negative) and attitude is the x axis (diligence/stress is positive whereas relaxation/laze is negative). We would both have positive y-coordinates, but different x’s, putting me in the 1st Quadrant and him in he 2nd.

And what do we call this, when a point is the same distance from the y axis as the first, just in a different direction? That’s right:
A Reflection

And that was probably the most interesting math theory (or the only math) you’ve come across in a while.


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