Department of Land, Air and Water Resources - University of California, Davis
Phone: (530) 752-0689   Email: cepuente@ucdavis.edu   Office: Veihmeyer 127
 

 

Cover of the book. New & revised second edition!
Available from “Santito Press”

Also available in Spanish

Two options before us
 two pathways ahead,
the one is the longest
 the other straight.

We journey directly
 or go by the legs,
we follow intently
 or end up in pain.

By walking the flatness
 or hiking the spikes,
we travel in lightness
 or take serious frights.

The incentive is unity
 and the call proportion,
the key is forgiveness
 and the goal true notion.

In wandering wickedness
 there is never fruit,
but in ample humbleness
 one encounters the root.

A parable elucidating a pathway to inner and world peace consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ is presented. Using universal princi­ples regarding natural turbulence as recently uncovered via the science of complexity, the piece shows how simple notions from modern science allow us to visualize the consequences of personal and collective ac­tions and how such ideas entice us, through reason and faith, to seek harmony and friendship in a condition typified by the hypotenuse of a right triangle. Written in a style that invites reflection and self-discovery, The Hypotenuse uses the format of an illustrated tale, with “people” walking on top of scientific diagrams, to weave concepts and symbols from mathematics, physics, politics, economics, and morals, in an original and unforeseen fashion.

The work, dedicated to the memory of Pope John Paul II, starts with a “geometric” citation from the gospel of Luke (Lk 3:4–6), followed by a preface and a Prelude that set the stage for the main text. The narra­tive is then divided into four main sections: a bit of history, a bit of math, a bit of physics, and a bit of common sense, which are supplemented by a set of notes, by the end of the book, containing pertinent references and additional explanations to the text. Then, the story includes a collection of poems-songs that further weaves the symbols in the para­ble, a postlude that emphasizes love as the solution to the evils we all face, and another Biblical quotation that reinforces the message of the parable, this time from the gospel of Matthew (Mt 19:16–24).

See also the presentation The Hypotenuse: The Path to Peace. Those looking for a good song may also be interested in the music video for the song Y = X.

“Carlos Puente has an unusual gift for using scientific ideas, amusing sketches and poetic comments to convey spiritual insights in a way that is attractive and eye-catching.”
— Rev. Dr. John C. Polkinghorne
Author of Belief in God in an Age of Science and The Faith of a Physicist
2002 Templeton Prize Winner
“I ought to confess that I found your proposals fascinating, so much as if I had in my own hands an unknown book by Borges.”
— José Saramago
Author of Blindness and The Gospel according to Jesus Christ
1998 Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
“After reading it few times, and needing time to reflect after each reading, The Hypotenuse can be understood as both a parable and a Zen Koan. A parable is an allegory intended for a moral and/or spiritual lesson, a Zen Koan poses a paradoxical question or problem whose intention is a spiritual breakthrough. The tale, both profoundly simple and simply profound, has an urgent message for all who are troubled by globalization and what it means today and could mean for humanity and our common future, for those promoting global justice and the just distribution of the earth’s good, and the spiritual welfare of human­ity. Politics, the economy, humanity and spirituality are components of The Hypotenuse, and therefore, equal factors in its solution. A tale ancient, yet applicable to the present moment, it demonstrates that it is within our reach and power to attain the balance that supports and maintains life for all.”
— Rev. Wil Tyrrell, S.A.
Director, Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Archdiocese of New York
“Dr. Carlos Puente has written a marvelous parable, showing how peace may be achieved through forgiveness and love. Puente draws parallels between the universal way by which turbulence occurs in nature and our immature human attitudes that often lead to indifference, violence, and solitude. Run to your nearest bookstore to buy this little gem, and sail on the shoreless sea of love.”
— Dr. Cliff Pickover
Author of The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience
“Carlos Puente turns mathematics into poetry and finds deep resonances be­tween the mathematical world of abstraction and the inner life of faith. He has no ideas or agenda to sell. He simply invites readers to journey with him to beautiful and undreamt of realities.”
— Dr. William A. Dembski
Author of No Free Lunch
The Hypotenuse uses a contemporary mathematical model of turbulence to provide a lucid and poetic illustration of the ultimate and achievable goal of human birth: experiencing and realizing the self. In consonance with ancient wisdom the world over, this creative tale motivates us to love and attain peace, harmony and oneness.”
— Vijay Kumar Gupta, Ph.D. and Indira Bhatt Gupta, M.S.W.
Professors of Hydrology, University of Colorado at Boulder
“I have read with great interest The Hypotenuse, a beautiful story that includes profound reflections on science, philosophy and ethics, in a simple language that may be understood by a large audience. It has been personally stimulating to find that science provides evidence that enviousness and egoism bring about injustice and suffering. In contrast, love and altruism produce equilibrium and contentment. I amply recommend the reading of this parable to all those interested in restoring peace to their lives and in allowing the divine seed to flourish in their hearts.”
— Dr. Alvaro A. Aldama
Director General, Mexican Institute of Water Technology
Professor, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Carlos is available to share presentations about his work on peace.
Contact him at cepuente@ucdavis.edu.

Cover art and design by Fernando Duarte and Segundo.