Category Archives: Featured Articles

Featured articles are long and deserve more attention. They have been saved in PDF format and html formats so you may print them out. Please enjoy the rich, thoughtful and provoking articles.

List-Construction as a Task and Resource

By Gail Jefferson

This report is a preliminary examination of lists occurring in natural conversation. It focuses upon the work which list-construction, as a task, allots to speakers, and some uses to which list-construction, as a resource, can be put by speakers.

The presence of three-part lists are first noted. Speakers and hearers orient to their three-part nature. The completed list can then constitute a turn at talk and the hearer can monitor the third component as a sign of turn completion. Lists can thereby’ be a conversational sequential resource.

By virtue of the three-part structure of some lists, members can orient to such matters as a “weak,” “absent,” or “missing” third part. Third items can be used to accomplish particular interactional work, such as topic-shifting and offense avoidance.

Further, a list can be constructed by more than one speaker. This feature may be used for a range of activities, including the achievement of interactional accord in situations of impending discord.

Read report here – List construction


On the Nature of the Universe

On the Nature of the Universe

By Scott Anfield

For many years, people have sought to discover a unified field theory which explains all the phenomena in the Universe, from the smallest particles to the galaxies and even the structure of the universe itself.  The theory which I propose encompasses all of these.

This theory is concerned with the fact that all things come in threes, of which there are numerous examples (see Appendix). The whole of anything is comprised of 3 parts. All 3 of these parts have something in common, which gives the appearance of a whole. The 3 parts are divided into a ratio of 1:2, of which two are the same as each other in some respect and one is different. Herein lays the stability of this theory, as it must always be two of the same and one different because when reversed, the single part would have nothing to be the same as. However, all 3 parts are interlinking with each other. Each part has something in common with every other part and they both have a difference with the other part. For example, parts one, two and three can be shown as A, B and C respectively.

  • A and B have a common link with each other, but both different from C
  • A and C have a common link with each other, but both different from B
  • B and C have a common link with each other, but both different from A.

I have named this tri-interconnectivity

Continue reading On the Nature of the Universe

Three as a magic number in Latin Literature

latin literatureRead Three as a magic number in Latin Literature (pdf file)

Or browse the Full text of “Three as a Magic Number in Latin Literature” by JStor.

Vol. xlvii] Three as a Magic Number in Latin Literature


To one who is investigating the subject of magic among the Romans few references to magical details seem so per- sistently repeated as those concerning the number three. It is my desire, therefore, to present in this paper all the pas- sages referring to three as a magic number that I have been able to find in the literature of Rome up to the beginning of the fourth century of our era, with some additional illustrative material drawn from a later date. 1

Continue reading Three as a magic number in Latin Literature

Living in Threes: Triangles and Triglyphs in Ancient Cultures

By Claire Holt

Few periods of ancient history sum up mathematical precision in quite as dramatic a fashion as Ancient Egypt. Against a rugged landscape of rocky mountains, rolling sand dunes, and the wide emptiness of an endless blue sky, the architects in the Land of the Pharaohs embraced geometric design with a passion unrivaled by any other civilization. The Pyramids at Giza remain one of the great architectural wonders of the world, and the giant sculpture of the Sphinx is an  unrivaled example of the Egyptian ability to represent the natural form within a geometric methodology. Equally interested in the mystical power of numerology were the Ancient Greeks. With their elegant marble temples and fertile landscapes, the Greeks built a civilization of which the number three was an object of passion. Its legacy has continued to live on as a core element of more modern cultural codes and religions, suggesting that three may be more important to the way that we currently view the world than we necessarily realize.

Continue reading Living in Threes: Triangles and Triglyphs in Ancient Cultures

Ternarity in Thinking, Culture, and Art: System-informational Roots of Unconsciousness

Петров, В. М.

2008, vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 3–18

The results obtained in the framework of six informational models of perception prove the preference of encoding of input information by three-graded features, the preference of using of three-parameter mechanisms and reliable fixation of periodic events which are repeated three times. In the latter case the excess of chance threshold and fixation of regularity by means of positive emotions play an important role. Deduced ternarity dominates in the unconscious, it is revealed primarily in phenomena of culture (colour triads in national schools of painting, three stage structure of literature texts, religious, philosophical, language and other systems) as well as in three-factorial structure of semantic space and three-dimensionality of the perceived world.

Full Text here (In Russian)

“Intensify this Awe”:Threeness, the Triad, and Christopher Alexander

[Original longer title: Identifying the Conceptual and Practical Power of Christopher Alexander’s Theory and Practice of Wholeness: Clues as Provided by British Philosopher J. G. Bennett’s Systematics of the Triad]
David Seamon
Department of Architecture
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
Excerpt: |

Bennett provides a simple example of the triad of interaction in everyday experience: “I am sitting in my study on a cold winter evening and do not notice that the fire has burnt low until my body experiences a sensation of cold. My attention being thus drawn to the fire, I get up, take a poker and poke the fire. When I see that it is burning up, I return to my chair and continue reading.
“The whole event is a cycle of interactions, beginning and ending with the bodily sensations of cold and heat. It can be broken down into a series of triads, starting with my reaction to the sensation of cold. Here the physical sensation links the fall of temperature with my getting up and taking the poker. The environment is active and my body is passive; sensation is the reconciling impulse. When I get up and poke the fire, my body is active, the fire is passive, and the poker transmits the reconciling impulse. When I begin to feel warm again, the fire is active, my body is passive and the radiation of the fire and the wamr air of the room transmit the reconciling impulse.
“The roles of the different objects—air, body, poker, fire—change from one triad to the other. There is neither expansion nor concentration but a change in the distribution of energy. The event can be thus analyzed in greater or less detail, but it will always prove to consist of a nexus of triads in which one entity is acting on another through the medium of a third.

Research into the “Threes” Phenomena – Herb O. Buckland

My views of the “Threes” phenomena have changed over the years. Whereas many decades ago I began collecting various patterns-of-three examples as if they constituted some fundamental universal law, I have come to realize that many of the so-called universals exist with what may be termed an auxiliary pattern. Namely, a 3-to-1 ratio that I alternatively describe as a 3-into-1, 3-from-1, or 3-as-1, though these proportions can be turned around to read 1-into-3, 1-from-3, or 1-as-3, whether one uses numbers, letters, symbols, sounds, etc., mix or match as you will. . .

The above paragraph is only an excerpt. Herb has an amazing site. I encourage you to read more at He also has laminated poster for sale! You may contact him directly at

Triplicity – Simon Kelsey


What is Triplicity?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary Triplicity has two meanings or definitions:

  1. Triplicity is one of the groups of three signs (each distant 120 degrees from the other two) into which the signs of the zodiac are divided.
  2. Triplicity is the quality or state of being triple or threefold.
  3. To these I propose adding a third meaning or definition: Triplicity is the phenomenon of Threeness in life.

Why a third one?  Well let’s step back a bit and begin by defining the term “threes”.  There are three primary colors red, blue and green, and three states of matter gas, liquid and solid.  Space has three dimensions and we divide time into the past, present and future.  In other words “threes” are groups of three things that are distinct from and yet related to each other.

What is really interesting is that there are numerous “threes” in every sphere of life.  Threes are an observable phenomenon.  I considered various names for this phenomenon and eventually settled on Triplicity, and so the third meaning or definition. 



Triadic logic

The Wikipedia entry on ternary numeral systems notes:

A base-three system is used in Islam to keep track of counting Tasbih to 99 or to 100 on a single hand for counting prayers (as alternative for the Misbaha). The mnemonic benefit is that counting within this system then reduces distraction since the counter needs only to divide Tasbihs into groups of three.

use of ternary numbers conveniently to convey self-similar structures like a Sierpinski Triangle or a Cantor set. The ternary representation is useful for defining the Cantor Set and related point sets, because of the way the Cantor set is constructed.

ternary as being the integer base with the highest radix economy, followed closely by binary and quaternary. It has been used for some computing systems because of this efficiency. Rarely mentioned is the existence of ternary computers (notably defining a tryte to be 6 trits, analogous to the binary byte).

use in the representation of 3 option trees, such as phone menu systems, which allow a simple path to any branch.

Of further relevance to the pattern of argument here is the role of ternary valued logic. Such a three-valued or trivalent logic is one in which there are three truth values indicating true, false and some third value. This is contrasted with the more common bivalent logics (mentioned above) which provide only for true and false. or guilty and not-guilty. An exception occurs in the Scottish legal system providing additionally for not-proven (a distinction which would seem to be of considerable current significance with respect to many detained in Guantanamo Bay).

Conceptual form and basic ideas were initially created by Jan Lukasiewicz, C. I. Lewis and Sulski. These were then re-formulated by Grigore Moisil in an axiomatic algebraic form, and also extended to n-valued logics. In the argument here, the question is whether the pattern in the diagram above holds a meaningful relationship with a range of multi-valued logic systems.

Continue reading Triadic logic