Mathematics for this Magical Mother’s Day

Today is May 12th, 2013 and it is Mother’s Day in America.

As a mathematician, certain numbers stand out to me, and today is no exception.

We begin with the month and the day, 5-12, the difference between these two numbers being a lucky seven.

The number 512 stands out even more to me and has a lot to do with life.

At the moment of conception there is one cell. This is the cell with the DNA to create everything after this point on, from within the womb to the baby that is born.

The power of exponential growth now takes over as the one cell divides to become two, and then four…

and in the first 10 generations we have:

1… 2… 4… 8… 16… 32… 64… 128… 256… and finally, on the tenth generation, we get:


Five-hundred and twelve is a natural product of the process of multiplying by two; of taking what you have and simply copying each existing cell over and over.

In terms of technology, 512 forms the bridge between the byte and the kilobyte. The computer unit known as a “byte” is made up of 8 “bits” where bits is the binary-unit. With 8 bits you can have 256 (2 to the 8th power) possibilities such as color with old VGA computer screens. A kilo-byte should technically be 1000 bytes, but it is really 1024 bytes, which is 2 to the tenth power.

In between these two is 2 to the 9th power; 512.

Can you think of anything symbolic about the number 9 and mothers and pregnancy?

This year’s mother’s day falls on 2 to the 9th power; one level gained for each month in the womb.

The 12-13 part.

Who is the ultimate Mexican Mother? Some call her Tonantzin while others refer to her as La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The Catholic Church draws a parallel between the colonization of the Mexico and the divine prophesy written in the book of the Apocalypse; Revelations Chapter 12:

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

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The Church uses this chapter to justify what they did to the Mexicans when they first came here, referring to the Aztec gods as serpents and devils which are referred to in Revelations 12. And then you look at Guadalupe, clothed with the sun and a moon under her feet… who in the end defeats the serpent… well that means Catholicism is supposed to triumph over the Aztec way of life, right?

Chapter 12:13 refers specifically to this motherhood:

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

This battle between the Woman and the Devil/Dragon/Serpent starts the Bible of in Genesis and completes it in the last book of the Apocalypse.

It is interesting, though, that 1500 years before the New World was discovered, this important event in Mexico was being prophesied about in a land that knew not of the other side of the round earth. Well, it’s interesting if you are a Catholic and want to justify what they did to our ancestors. You can always find a Bible verse to justify just about anything.

Then there’s the entire date; 5-12-13.

The mathematician immediately recognizes this as one of the two most popular examples of the Pythagorean theorem that states that the sum of the square of the sides of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the hypotenuse.

To the person not well-versed in geometry, the relationship here is that:

5-squared + 12-squared = 13-squared

5*5 + 12*12 = 13*13

25 + 144 = 169

The 5-12-13 is the second-smallest such right triangle with integer sides with the smallest being the classic 3-4-5 triangle (3-squared + 4-squared = 5-squared).

The relationship to mothers is clear; just like the 5-12-13 triangle, she is always right.

Now we explore the last number: 13.

This number plays an important role in Meso-American calendars which are actually made up of two different calendars; one based off the solar year that we are used to, and the other sacred one is made up of 13 “months” of 20 days, or rather a 13- and 20-day cycle that repeat every 13×20 days to create a complete calendar of 260 days.

This is about how many days there are until harvest. I usually plant my seeds around the Rodeo holiday (it’s a Tucson thing) in late February, and Thankstaking holiday is 9 months later in late November.

The significance of the number 13 with mothers is ancient. For example, there are 13 lunar cycles in each 52-week year. Coming back to the calendar, the reason a 260 day cycle is kept track of is because the other solar year cycle is the calendar for our Mother Earth; the 260-day calendar is for Humans and how long we spend in our Mother’s womb.

As a Mexican Mathematician, these are just some random ideas that come immediately to my mind when I look at today’s date combined with the fact that it is Mother’s day.

The symbology of today is beautiful, and I thought I’d share that with you.

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