### 2006: Harvey L. Hix, “The Idea of a University”

Here is what I learned in school:
one can calculate the space
here to the unreachable;

no good is pure but good will;
ηως ροδοδάκτυλος. 1
I learned, but not always well.

Carbon is symmetrical;
ignōtum per ignōtius; 2
light speed is unreachable.

Ex nihilō fit nihil 3;
homō hominī lupus; 4
that
is what I learned in school.

x, where 1 over x equals
x over 1 plus x: 5
abstract is empirical.

Space is four-dimensional.
Εν αρχη ην ο λόγος. 6
School taught me distrust of school
and
gave the unreachable.

1. “Rosy-fingered Dawn,” Homer, passim. [NOTE: Diacritical marks are omitted because of limitations with fonts.]
2. “The unknown (explained) by means of the more unknown: an annoyingly obscure explanation.”
3. “Nothing comes of nothing.” Lucretius.
4. “Man is a wolf to men.” Plautus.
5. The equation expresses a proportionality of line segments, which the Greeks found pleasing: take a segment of total length 1 + x and break it into pieces of lengths 1 and x. Then the ratio of the two pieces is the same as the ratio of the second to the total length. This is sometimes called Mean and Extreme Ratio in Euclidean geometry.

Now, this equation is equivalent to quadratic equation: start with 1/x = x/(1 + x) and cross multiply to obtain x2 = x + 1, which by the quadratic formula has solutions [1 +/- squareroot(5)] / 2. The positive solution [1 + squareroot(5)] / 2 is a famous number in mathematics. It is the golden ratio, sometimes denoted phi. It occurs in all kinds of applications and is related to the Fibonacci sequence. The Greeks, for instance, thought that the most esthetic rectangle was one in which the side ratio is phi to 1. There is a recent popular book about it. So the equation that the poet names has a good pedigree. (Jeff Nunemacher)

6. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”