MEHMEs and eipiphinies

What book differentiates the 20th and 21st centuries from all other centuries? (click for the answer)

What do the words MEHME and eipiphiny mean?

MEHME stands for “meaningful, emotional, humanistic, mathematical experience.” It is a play on the word “meme.” “The term ‘meme’ (rhymes with ‘theme’), coined in 1976 by famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, refers to a unit of cultural information transferable from one mind to another. Dawkins said, Examples of memes include tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. [The word “meme” has recently been included in the Oxford English Dictionary where it is defined as “a self-replicating element of culture, passed on by imitation”.] A meme propagates itself as a unit of cultural evolution and diffusion — analogous in many ways to the behavior of the gene (the unit of genetic information). Often memes propagate as more-or-less integrated cooperative sets or groups, referred to as memeplexes or meme-complexes. “The idea of memes has proved a successful meme in its own right, achieving a degree of penetration into popular culture rare for a scientific theory. “Proponents of memes suggest that memes evolve via natural selection — in a way very similar to Charles Darwin’s ideas concerning biological evolution — on the premise that variation, mutation, competition, and “inheritance” influence their replicative success. For example, while one idea may become extinct, other ideas will survive, spread and mutate —for better or for worse — through modification. “Meme-theorists contend that memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes which replicate the most effectively spread best; which allows for the possibility that successful memes might prove detrimental to their hosts.” MEHME stands for a mathematical meme that is a positive, meaningful, emotional, humanistic experience that we wish all children to discover and experience.


The term “eipiphiny” is a play on the word “epiphany”. Epiphany is defined as “a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment.” It refers to an eureka/ah hah experience. eipiphiny stands for a “mathematical/stochastic” epiphany. It is made up of the mathematical constants, e, pi, phi, and the imaginary number, i, which if they had not been discovered the modern world as we know it would not exist. e and i also stand for “emotional intelligence” the understanding of which is essential to our mission.

Why are the words MEHME and eipiphiny required?

It is difficult if not impossible to discuss the subject matter of the essential role of emotions in education if words to adequately represent the subject matter do not exist. Such is the case when we arrive at the need to discuss the essential role of “emotional intelligence” as it relates to the essential need for our children and grandchildren to be mathematically and stochastically literate in order to exist and compete in a world dominated by technology. We believe that failure to have words such as “MEHME” and “eipiphiny” has contributed to the failure of many educators to have the essential role of “emotional intelligence” and its relationship to mathematical and stochastic literacy adequately and properly addressed despite valiant attempts to do so. The result is an educational system that we believe is failing. If children can experience MEHMEs and eipiphinies they will grow to love mathematics, see the relevance to their daily decisions, and will be self-confident. How could the above statement be efficiently made and discussed without the creation of the words MEHME and eipiphiny?

What are some examples of MEHMEs and eipiphinies?

Professor Paul Davies captured the spirit of MEHME and eipiphiny in the following personal anecdote.

In any event theory better suited my temperament and conformed to my long-standing quest for meaning. I had discovered the charm of pure theory some years earlier, while still at Finchley. I had taken a fancy to a darkhaired girl called Lindsay, who was studying only the humanities and so spent long hours in the school library reading English literature. I contrived to sit opposite her one day, charged with the homework task of computing the trajectory of a ball projected up an inclined plane. As I was partway through several sheets of mathematics, the ravishing Lindsay looked across at me with a mixture of admiration and puzzlement. “What are you doing?” she asked. When I explained, she seemed completely mystified. “But how can you tell where a ball will go by writing squiggles on paper?” Lindsay’s question has haunted me ever since. How is it, indeed, that we can capture the workings of nature using human mathematics? I came to see the equations of theoretical physics as the universe’s hidden subtext. By learning the arcane language and procedures of mathematics, I could access an occult world of forces and fields, of invisible subatomic particles and subtle interactions – a wonderland at my fingertips every bit as compelling as the dark night sky above our heads but somehow more exciting because of its abstract nature. I felt as if I had been inducted into a secret society, where by following a set of special rules I could unveil an alternative reality – in fact, a deeper level of reality, which somehow came closer to the soul. The soul of the universe, perhaps. I realized then how Galileo must have felt when he wrote that the book of nature is written in mathematical language, and I experienced something of the same thrill: the sense that nature itself was speaking to me in code. —Paul C. W. Davies

Professor John Casti captured the spirit of MEHME and eipiphiny in a different manner and used the emotion packed word “beautiful” that will often be found when mathematicians express their emotions about their discipline. In answer to the question, “If you could teach the world just one thing …” Professor Casti responded,

As a mathematician, I should teach the world a mathematical statement, which is not strictly a scientific concept. My bequest involves just seven symbols, and involves no words. It is the eighteenth-century Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler’s magical expression, linking the five most important constants in mathematics: e + 1 = 0. This formula links e, the base of natural logarithms; pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter; i, the square root of -1; and the binary numbers 1 and 0; into a single, compact, almost unbelievable expression. Who would have thought that two transcendental numbers (pi and e), the square root of -1 (i), and the minimal set of elements needed to construct arithmetic (0 and 1), could all five be combined in such a compact, elegant, simple formula? Almost every mathematician alive would vote for Euler’s formula, as the most beautiful result in the history of mathematics. For that reason, I vote to pass it along to the next set of sentient beings.

Interactive Websites

Web of Stories
Video stories about mathematics.


The Amazon Kindle
kindle [v. trans]: Light or set fire. Arouse or inspire (an emotion or feeling).


Meme (Wikipedia)
The idea of memes has proved a successful meme in its own right, achieving a degree of penetration into popular culture rare for a scientific theory.

Meme Lab
Meme lab is a small research unit based at Bristol (UK) interested in applying evolutionary theories to the human development of culture and the understanding of the mind.

The theoretical and empirical science that studies the replication, spread and evolution of memes