on limits

In calculus, limits describe how a function behaves near a point.

In our everyday lives, limits seem to describe how we behave under a particular stress. For example, I have, with great difficulty, completed 100 consecutive push-ups three times in my life. Those last push-ups felt impossible, but I pushed through to a glorious collapse on the century-mark. But here is the curious point, how many times have I ever completed 101 consecutive push-ups? Zero. 100 push ups became my limit.

Before Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier in the 1-mile run, people thought it was humanly impossible to accomplish such a feat. There are limits to what a person can do. Yet, time after time, we encounter evidence that those limits, unlike those limits of calculus, are less exact. The variability is astonishing and sparks the wonder: what could happen on a long enough timeline?

What do limits really communicate? Could we go one more?

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