The Devil’s in the details

Edward Teller calculated that the atom bomb would ignite the world on fire. He was proven wrong, not because the world still is around. It was because his fellow scientist told him he had not made the right calculations. Later in 1954, Teller’s team calculated the lithium-7 found in Castle Bravo wouldn’t be a problem with the hydrogen bomb, but because of miscalculations, the hydrogen bombs was about three times stronger than expected.

You would expect that mathematicians and scientists working on the most devastating weapon ever developed would have their shit double checked. However, humans are prone to make errors.

Very rarely something goes wrong in its largest of elements. More, often, it’s just that one little detail that can cause a cascading effect of other little things failing. We all know this, we’ve all experienced it more than once. The worst part of it is that we’ll probably overlook details even more in the future, causing more damage and harm than intended.

Let’s take a less dramatic example than a miscalculation in production of weapons of mass destruction, like the inclination of your chair. It may have been design to look great and has some use of the Horacek angle, but that may be to your detriment. The wrong angle where your back lies on while you type is different from when you’re supposed to relax. Not only that, but the chair you use for whatever activity has to have its own properties. Then you have the fact that despite our standard measurements, we have unique bodies with their own problems. There is no one universal chair, and they need to change with times. It’s like cremation chambers that nowadays need to take into account the fat percentage the corpse has in order to keep the whole facility from experiencing a raging fire. I wish I was joking. Even after death fat people seem to cause nothing but trouble to designers.

If we want to explore the Christian basis if the saying, despite seemingly originating from Germany, is that the Devil knows all the details. Seems like the details are an integral route to salvation, at least during Old Testament, where the Devil tends to obfsucate the necessary information. I’m the wrong person to ask about theology, but it does play to the whole thing quite well. Even in discussion noting the small things is important, and sometimes people intentionally leave the small things out, like with some of the recent news that have been about. Leaving a thing out here, another there, slightly re-wording something to give that slightly off-hand impression of whatever… It’s in the end a play to screw with your mind, dear reader.

I love using food examples, mainly because we all eat and good food is largely universal. This applies here as well, as you can take essentially any bit of cooking as an example about the small things going wrong. The heat, time, ingredients and their age, spicing, utensils, time you serve, everything can go wrong, and usually something does. You may have some slightly outdated or raw ingredients, the heat may be too low or you may burn the food a bit too much, you may throw too much salt or pepper in there and ruin the taste, the utensils may be wrong or material in them cause some problems and you may end up serving the food too early or late. You know the deal, you’ve made dinner.

But the Devil is in the detail. 666 is not the only number associated with the Beast. However, 616 seems to be the more accurate number of it as it is referred in the Oxyrhynchus’ papyrus. Modern world doesn’t recognize it any more due to these little details, like translation issues, but it is something that should be kept in mind. The ever-present fascination in the number in the end is part of our global culture to the point of many forgetting 888 is its counterpart, the number of Christ the Redeemer.

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