Are you a "Number Freak"?

indexIn one of my  many sojourns to the Barnes & Noble store in Orland Park, I bought a book entitled “Number Freak: From 1 to 200, The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed”. If you. like me, never majored in math but have nurtured a life-long fascination with numbers, this book will add to that fascination. The author Derrick Niederman has compiled a potpourri of  interesting facts about the numbers (or numerals) from 1 to 2oo.

Gentle Reader, let me share a few of these with you.  Who knows? You may want to seek out the book and glean a few more on your own.

46: In the King James Version of Psalm 46 (“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…”) the 46th word from the beginning is ‘shake’ and the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’. In 1610 when the King James Version was first published, William Shakespeare turned 46!  A coincidence to be sure. But this old story is indeed true: 46 BC was the longest year in history because that’s when Julius Caesar adopted the Julian Calendar and in doing so created a year with 445 days.

87: “The word decimoctoseptology won’t be found in any dictionary, but it means the study of the number 87, at least to a handful of practitioners who share the quirky view that 87 is the most random number.”

36: “The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, has 36 columns—12 in the front and back, and 8 on each side. (Adding 12, 12, 8, and 8 together yields 40, not 36, but 4 must be subtracted from that total because each corner is counted twice.)   The top of each column is inscribed with the name of one of the states of the union at the time of Lincoln’s presidency, conveniently, the 36th, Nevada, joined the union just days before Lincoln’s reelection in 1864.

113: “355/113 is an extremely good approximation of pi.  355/113 =3.14155929…while pi = 3.1415926….  It was discovered in the fifth century AD by Chinese mathematician and astronomer Tsu Ch’ung-Chih.

40: 40 is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order when written in English.

65: “The strange thing about 65 is that is one away from being a square, yet if you subtract from it its reversal, 56, you get the square 9. And if you add to it its reversal you get the square 121.

130: The smallest divisors of 130 are 1, 2, 5, and 10. The sum of the squares of these numbers equals 130. No other number equals the  the sum of its first four divisors.

108: “There are 108 double stitches on an official Major League baseball.

33: “The number 33 has found its way into cultures the world over. In Spanish, the phrase ‘Diga treinta y tres’ (‘Say 33’) is used in the same way as is ‘Say cheese’ in English. In Romania, doctors often ask their patients to say’33’ (‘Treizeci si trei’) when listening to their lungs with a stethoscope.”

26: “If you subtract 1 from 26 you get 25, a perfect square. If you add 1 to 26, you get 27, a perfect cube. No other number is nested between a square and a cube in that fashion.”


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  • 113: It is usually assumed that pi is an irrational number, so the attempt to rationalize it (make it into a fraction), certainly shows a difference in philosophies.

    Many of the relationships among numbers were developed by Trachtenberg while in concentration camp.

    If you want to get into freaky numerology, get into transit fleet numbers discussed throughout Although essentially asset tags in a computer system, there are the unsolved questions of why the recent delivery of buses started with 7900 instead of 8000 (one expert posted why not 7800, but that wasn't the question) and the observation that unit 4333 burned on both the CTA and Metro North railroad. There is also Pace, which won't end a vehicle number with 13, and somehow they changed their numbering system on paratransit vehicles.

  • Sounds like Trachtenberg's life could be cinemized a la The Imitation Game or The Theory of Everything. Who would play him, I wonder.

    Pi is irrational, and so is 355/113.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    By definition, 355/113 is rational, because it is a ratio, and according to Windows Calculator terminates at 3.141592920353982. That's darn close to Pi, though.

    At least it is not imaginary, as the square root of negative one would be.

    As far as who would play him, I sure one can find some emaciated actor of Russian-Jewish descent. Doesn't look like Charlie Sheen will be producing that movie, but Chuck Lorre could find someone (not that different than The Big Bang Theory).

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack. Maybe when I replied above I was irrational.

  • I don't know if your post was a coincidence, but the Tribune has a story that today is Pi Day, and all the coincidences that entails.

  • Jack, I can always count on you to make my Pi Day. Synchronicity Redux.

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