The variance equation basically sums up all the distances between each data value and the mean of the set. The interesting thing is that each distance and squared for a reason that I believe is to make the distance positive, but why don't the statisticians just take the absolute value of each distance to give a smaller number? Is there some benefit to having a large number to work with? I mean, the smaller numbers nevertheless have decimals that can be used to compare magnitude and such. Thank you.