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Thinking in Eights

by | Oct 17, 2008 | Futurist Thomas Frey Insights

Thomas Frey Futurist Speaker thinking-in-eights
“Beyond the known, lies the future”

Very often the work that I do is in groupings of eight, and you are probably wondering what the significance is of the number eight.  Have I always been tormented with an “eight” fetish?  Is this some sort of obsession like Jim Carrey in the movie “23”?  Will the world end if I somehow violate my own rules-of-eight?

The fact of the matter is that this is just a recent obsession without any real origin and not really tied to any long term strategy, at least not one that I can talk about in public.  But rest assured, I am not eight feet tall, I don’t have eight legs, and I don’t have eight fingers.  Wait, I’m sorry.  I do have eight fingers, if I subtract out the thumbs.

But I did interview eight people last summer, listened to eight audio books, chewed exactly eight pieces of gum every hour, and celebrate “8:88 time” every day, which is actually 9:28 am and 9:28 pm.  Does that make me someone who is just a few fries short of a happy meal?  You’d only say that if you are one of those classic-four losers, a gambling seven-loving fool, or one of those weird “13” freaks.

For those of you normal people who regard this as a strange way of looking at the world, let me begin by giving you eight reasons why the number eight is so important.

1. Eight is a dimensional number.  It gives you all four directions above and four directions below the horizon.  When a three dimensional graph is created with the X, Y, and Z axis, it evenly divides the space into eight pieces.

2. Eight is a power of two, being two cubed.  Eight is the first cubed prime number.

3. The number 8 is a Fibonacci number, being 3 plus 5. The next Fibonacci number is 13.

4. Eight is the atomic number of oxygen, humankind’s most important element.

5. In liquid measurement (U.S. customary units), there are 8 fluid ounces in a cup, 8 pints in a gallon, 8 tablespoons in a gill, and 8 furlongs in a mile.  Long live the furlong!

6. A “lazy eight” is the symbol for infinity.  The classic mobius stip on steroids.  Infinity is the opposite of nanotechnology, but then again, we still don’t know if there is a limit to smallness.

7. A polyhedron with eight faces is an octahedron, and for me a diamondoid-like object representing the 8 cylinder-like facets of an engine that will drive us into the future.

8. I just happen to like the number eight.

So now that I have given you my reasoning behind working with the number eight, just get over it.  Life seldom makes sense, and once we figure out all the things possible, the fact that I have an eccentric obsession with eight will be the least of your worries.

So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, we can begin looking at the future through this eight-sided lens.

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