The Non-Expert

The Power of the Three

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we reveal the secrets of the mighty triumvirate that rules the universe. But you didn’t hear about it here.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Why does it seem like everything comes in threes? —Mike

Answer: Mike, you may not realize the vast complexity of this yet, but you have just stumbled onto one of the most important findings in the history of the numerological sciences—and, dare I say, the universe. The number three is not only the third numeral in our arbitrarily constructed base-10 system, it is the central cornerstone in the underlying abstract nature of the cosmos, just edging out one and zero, with 21 coming in neck and neck with 13 for fourth place.

All of the equations that govern the physical laws of our universe are based around the number three in some way. Consider this: There are three parts to Euler’s Identity equation—ei?—which posits the transcendental base of the natural logarithm, e, to the power of the imaginary number, i, times the transcendental number ?, which is then amazingly equal to negative one. It has three parts to it. And that transcendental number ?—the one that defines the inherent relationship of the circumference to the radius of any circle, creates the Golden Ratio found in the tiniest of mollusks to the grandeur of Grecian architecture, and whose digits extend toward infinity—starts out with the number three. Do you understand the consequences of this?

Perhaps I have said too much too quickly. Some of these concepts go beyond what the mind is willing to comprehend. Historically, it hasn’t been well accepted. When a student of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras discovered this primal nature of the number three, the other students immediately set him on fire and hoisted him to the top of the nearest flagpole by his underpants. They were scared that what he found would tear their numerological system based around the number 301 into chaos. Because up until then, everything was done in sets of 301: examples include Grecian orgies, tennis matches, and yes, even examples themselves. Bar jokes would go on for hours on end and were wholly unenjoyable. The last 30 gods in the pantheon of Grecian mythology are actually there just for filler. Legend tells of a joke where each of them goes into a bar to order the same ambrosia-flavored drink. Nobody has ever lived to find out the punchline, but it has to do with “purple ping-pong balls.” The Pythagoreans had developed extremely complicated algorithms that explained the universe, from the topological wrapping of stuffed grape leaves to the complex flavor of ouzo, all as derivations from the number 301. After seeing their peers’ proof and eventually coming to grips with its accuracy, they flushed years of their mathematical research into the Aegean Sea and quickly threw together something about triangles. From that day forward they vowed to form a secret group to protect this knowledge from the outside world, lest others go mad and hoist themselves to the top of a flagpole whilst afire.

Advanced students will learn why celebrity deaths come in threes, which celebrities are members, and how each of them has crossed us in some way that they eventually pay for. Now that you are privy to this ancient secret, you have unlocked the world of mystery and there is no turning back. It is like peeling away the layers of an onion only to find infinitely more onion underneath. Take a look at today’s winning lottery number and you are likely to find the number three in there. If you take today’s closing value of the Dow Jones, divide it by the date of the J.F.K. assassination taken to the power of n, where n is the serial number on the next two-dollar bill you come across, it will most likely have the number three somewhere in the result. Not only is it prime, but when multiplied by itself, then divided by itself, then taken to the third root, and then to the third power, the result is still, amazingly, three. In this way, the number three is considered a supra-transcendental primeval number. When a Sistine monk in the fifth century discovered this fact, he immediately gouged out his eyes with a fountain pen and screamed into the air, “Ho bisogno di una calcolatrice.”

Luckily, members of our secret group were able to spirit away his findings and make sure the outside world would see neither hide nor hair of these mind-altering truths. To this day, our elite society has guarded these and other precious documents within a highly fortified ancient castle, hidden deep below the Earth, out past the Denny’s on Route 42. Each member is sworn to secrecy about the goings-on at this castle. They can’t tell their friends, their loved ones, and they can’t even tell other members of the group. It’s just that secretive. It makes for really awkward mixers.

We are not the Knights Templar, nor the Illuminati, nor the Rosicrucians (although we do use their rec room on weekends). These other “secret societies” barely have any secrets to keep anymore. Our goal is threefold nobler than those glorified lemon parties. We show up to Shriner parades and start mini-car demolition derbies. Freemasons pave our driveways. Skull and Bones members dance for nickels at our fish fries. All this because they recognize the cosmic power of the number three. The Holy Trinity, tri-colored pasta, Three-Buck Chuck—all unquestionable magical properties of the number three.

Now that your third eye has been awakened to this hyper-cosmic understanding, the esteem and power that comes with membership can now be yours. If you choose to join us, you would stand amongst the three richest kings of Europe and every American president except Fillmore (who was just too much of a blabbermouth). Once you accept, we will ingratiate you to the standards of our tribe. Our secret handshake, sort of a quick jig while “the monkey steals the peach,” helps identify members in social settings. Teaching sessions will improve your mastery over the understanding of the number three and its sequential parts: the Introduciary, the Penultimatum, and the Conclusionarium. Advanced students will learn why celebrity deaths come in threes, which celebrities are members, and how each of them has crossed us in some way that they eventually pay for.

Mike, the phantasmagoric power of the Three is in your hands if you choose to accept it. You have opened the door to knowledge and now is the time for you to embrace it (the knowledge, not the door). Accept the understanding that all things of worth come in threes—Three Stooges, Three Dog Night, Three’s Company—and maybe, if you’re lucky, we’ll move on to twos.