Even for those of us who finished high school algebra on a wing and a prayer, there’s something compelling about equations. The world’s complexities and uncertainties are distilled and set in orderly figures, with a handful of characters sufficing to capture the universe itself.

We do advise, however, against getting any of these equations tattooed on your body, much less branded. An equation t-shirt would do just fine.For your enjoyment, the Wired Science team has gathered nine of our favorite equations. Some represent the universe; others, the nature of life. One represents the limit of equations.