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Off the Number Line: Imaginaries at Play

imaginary numbers funny math cartoon


Cute! I like how 8i is the mom. Very fitting. What are those imaginary number kids 3i and 5i playing with down there on the real number line?

They’re using the real numbers 1 and 4 as swords. I’m imagining that the mom probably also said: “Put those down! Those are real.”

Is that vertical dashed line the imaginary number line?

Yes. Since i, the square root of -1, doesn’t exist on the real number line, you can represent it by having it float above 0. When you consider multiples of i (1i, 2i, 3i, etc…) it forms that vertical imaginary number line.

I like how these imaginary numbers are more “life-like” than the real numbers!

Well that’s part of the message here. Even though we call them “imaginary,” they are actual numbers. Imaginary numbers aren’t any more “pretend” or “fictitious” than real numbers.

Can’t wait to see what you imagine for the next Off the Number Line cartoon!

Matthew Peterson and James Huang

About the Author

Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., is Co-founder and Chief Research & Development Officer at the MIND Research Institute. James Huang is Senior Visual Designer at MIND Research Institute.


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