Numbers. They aren’t things. But they seem like they’re something. They are a something that you cannot touch. But you can count with them.
Counting is an activity. It describes an attribute of a group. It talks about size, in a way. Counting is only one thing you can do with numbers. You can use them to make something bigger or smaller. You can use them to quickly multiply–make more–or to divide–cut a whole into pieces. You can never finish dividing something.
Numbers can be used for descriptions that are not about size. They can talk about more or less. They can be used to demonstrate something that cannot be broken down, like a prime number. They can be used to pinpoint how long it takes for two trains that leave a station traveling at different speeds to be 262 miles apart.
You do that by further abstracting numbers, by swapping them out with letters that stand in for numbers. Seriously, can it get any more weird?
By abstracting, smart people and machines made by smart people, can search for answers to the questions of the universe. Numbers can be used to explain how our little blue planet hugs around the sun and how our gray rock of a moon stays away, but not too far away. It can express the minutia of the atomic world and provides a sign to a subatomic world. By using numbers and measures that are based on numbers, some of those smart people realized that there are parts of the universe that we hadn’t accounted for.
I wonder what’s in that part.
All this, and numbers aren’t even something.