For years together, there was one thing which challenged and continues to challenge the best minds in the world. People of all ages have tried their best to get to the crux of it and expose the hidden mysteries that it conceals, but they have failed miserably. It occurs in a strange way. It gives everyone a sense of victory, of having conquered it and lets people bask in rays of their success and finally, it unveils the truth. It boasts to the whole world that it is invincible and can never be conquered.

There is an air of enigma that surrounds the letter X. 

Take X rays, take algebra or take anything related to X for that matter. It continues to evade any direct question aimed at it. You ask ‘Who are you?’ it would probably say ‘I come along with a group of unknown rays’ or ‘I am 144’ or ‘I am 3.154’. It would probably want to maintain anonymity or would like to make it clear that it is forbidden for a certain set of people. We know that it is not lying, in fact a bit of what it says is true, but we also know that it is not right. There is no universal answer. It is subjective, based on the person who questions it and the situation in which it has to answer. 

If there is one thing that has united the men and women of the world, it is this. The quest towards unveiling the mask it has worn for centuries and more. At some point in our lives, either at labs or in a simple mathematics class would have given our best to solve for x and find out what it actually is. René Descartes started it and now all of us use it, still we are no way close to finding out what it actually is. 

There are many people who look for a certain X factor. In fact there have been many reality shows that were started for trying to figure what it might be. It seemed like a joke to me. They don’t know what they are searching for but they continue to search, with sponsors pouring from international brands. That’s another story. It’s like searching for something in the Pacific Ocean or in Ranganathan street (T Nagar, Chennai), without knowing what to look for. I mean, what are the chances? 

I cannot believe that I spent a considerable part of my academic life trying to decipher the hidden truths behind X. Be it simple algebra or complex calculus or medical electronics, I have spent my fair share of time and effort in trying to get to the crux of it. I have obviously failed since I haven’t come to a decision, nor have I started preparing any thesis for any supposed findings. But I’m proud that I was a part of the generation that spent time trying to work out what this X might be.

My tryst with X is done. I do not wish to dwell further on that. My only wish is that, at least somewhere down the lane, a few years or centuries later, one geeky fellow gets to find out what this X is and puts all speculations and rumors to rest.  At least then will the souls of a million mathematicians and mathematics aficionados will rest in peace.a

Have you found out anything about it?

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