# Prime numbers are just the beginning.April 21, 2010 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Every number from 1 to 9,999 has a special meaning. (much mathematical terminology, scrolling)
posted by zardoz (69 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

1 is the loneliest number
2 can be as bad as one
3 is the number of dog nights
4 is the smallest number of colors sufficient to color all planar maps ...
posted by mazola at 9:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

Somehow not mentioned: all of the numbers from 1 to 9 appear in Beatles lyrics.

One two three four five six seven,
All good children go to Heaven

Eight Days a Week

Revolution #9
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:52 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

3 is a magic number.

EARTH HAS 4 CORNER SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY TIME CUBE IN ONLY 24 HOUR ROTATION. 4 CORNER DAYS, CUBES 4 QUAD EARTH- No 1 Day God.

The 5 are the poor righteous teachers that do not subscribe to the teachings of the 10, and the 85 are blind to the knowledge of self.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:53 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Every number from 1 to 9,999 has a special meaning.

There's no 1968. I feel gypped!
posted by mazola at 9:54 PM on April 21, 2010

I forget what 8 was for.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:55 PM on April 21, 2010 [12 favorites]

And Mazola,
19 nervous breakdowns & 99 teardrops

But even though I was warned, I had to stop at 12 when the explanation had sigma in it. Isn't there something else special about 12? I always liked it, until I found out it was abundant.
posted by Some1 at 9:56 PM on April 21, 2010

Heh.

Theorem: All numbers are special snowflakes.

Proof:
Suppose there are numbers that's are not special at all. Now, take the first one of all those non-special numbers. Well, being the first non-special number is special. Hence, there can be no non-special numbers.
posted by qvantamon at 9:58 PM on April 21, 2010 [24 favorites]

Got 9999 problems...
posted by Behemoth at 9:59 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

It would be one thing if this list was all mathematics, but:

"711 is the name of a chain of convenience stores." ; P

not to mention there are lots of numbers with "???" next to them...
posted by flyinghamster at 10:00 PM on April 21, 2010

*I use my edit window and remove that extra 's*

By the way, that proof is only valid for enumerable sets.
posted by qvantamon at 10:00 PM on April 21, 2010

Some1: Twelve is a special number. 12 is the number of faces of a dodecahedron. Also the number of signs of the Zodiac. Also the number of hours in a day, unless you're in the military.

that proof is only valid for enumerable sets

Modulo the continuum hypothesis.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:03 PM on April 21, 2010

There's no 1968. I feel gypped!

It's also missing 1965, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and a bunch of other numbers in that range.
posted by delmoi at 10:05 PM on April 21, 2010

posted by claudius at 10:05 PM on April 21, 2010

There's actually only 4784 numbers. And nothing for 10000? It's the first 5 digit whole number in sequence. Is that not cool enough?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:08 PM on April 21, 2010

By my count only 4784 numbers are actually enumerated.

The others are special too, they're just secret.
posted by mazola at 10:08 PM on April 21, 2010

They wasted 42.
posted by Bobicus at 10:15 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's only mathematical "special meaning". Numbers can mean other things. Poets and singers might see it a different way:

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
Wed hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen.

By the way, Sinatra goes on to sing about being 21 and 35, then says "But now the days grow short. I'm in the autumn of the year", which I find disheartening because, c'mon... you're just over 35? It can't mean that much.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:16 PM on April 21, 2010

... and of the 4784 numbers listed, 59 are simply tagged '???'

That leaves 4725 (an odd abundant number).
posted by mazola at 10:22 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

By the way, that proof is only valid for enumerable sets.

Nevermind the whole, 'specialness not being well defined,' Russel's paradox and all.
posted by Bobicus at 10:23 PM on April 21, 2010

If you define specialness it becomes less special.
posted by qvantamon at 10:24 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

By the way, Sinatra goes on to sing about being 21 and 35, then says "But now the days grow short. I'm in the autumn of the year", which I find disheartening because, c'mon... you're just over 35? It can't mean that much.

Well, I don't think he meant "autumn of the year" to mean "I'm nearly 36," but rather simply "now I'm singing about yet another stage of life, having just discussed my thirties." 17 to 21 is an increase of 4 years. 21 to 35, though, is 14. The pattern's unclear with so few data points, but it seems reasonable that the next (final) year is at least 49 and probably older; by no means decrepit but a valid time, I think, to start saying it's the "autumn," presuming that one's life concludes with the winter. (Also, I've always found the song kind of depressing myself; I've always imagined it as a guy who's hit middle age and found himself alone and miserable, and just sits around moping.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:25 PM on April 21, 2010

just sits around moping

He says he "And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs", which to me suggests heavy drinking.

But we digress.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:30 PM on April 21, 2010

Also, why isn't the smallest number without a special meaning listed?
posted by planet at 10:33 PM on April 21, 2010

I'm depressed that 10,000 isn't special. It was always special to me.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:38 PM on April 21, 2010

Some of us are working on a similar project, but we're only up to 134 so far.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

921 has the unique property that if you take 922 and subtract 1, you get 921.
1649 once bitch-slapped 15 because it was talkin' trash.
4102 totally fucking owns base 9. Like a motherfucker, yo.
6845 would be prime if it was divisable only by 1 and itself.
7851 was completely lost in the 17th century, but was subsequently discovered hiding behind the couch.
8843 is pretty.
9732 once lent me its Xbox for a month, so it's on the list for sure. Way to go, big guy!

I'm no mathematician, but some of these sound a bit dodgy.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:41 PM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

"Every positive integer is one of Ramanujan's personal friends."
posted by neuron at 10:42 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

1333 has a base 2 representation that ends with its base 6 representation.
1334 is a value of n for which σ(n) = σ(n+1).
1337 spells Leet in Leet.
1340 has a square with a digit sum larger than its 5th power.

Um.
posted by parudox at 10:42 PM on April 21, 2010

When you try to find meanings for small numbers you have to contend with The Strong Law of Small Numbers (PDF - Wiki), which basically says there aren't enough small numbers to meet the many demands made of them.. The small numbers appear much more often than the large ones, so their meanings get overloaded.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:45 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

And this, my friends, is why Dedekind and his stupid number line are full of shit.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 PM on April 21, 2010

A cutting remark, koeselitz. Which side are you on?
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:53 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

This isn't all the numbers between 1 and 9999, hell it's not even all the rational numbers. RIP! OFF!

3.14 is special because it's pi to 2 decimal places

3.15 is meaningless

Do you think they just mean integers?
posted by Bonzai at 10:57 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

3.15 = ( (4+3) × (4+1) × (4+5))/100.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:00 PM on April 21, 2010

The late BBS peoplesforum did this; it got up to fairly large digits. But that forum didn't restrict itself to math, though each prime number got its due. As oneswellfoop mentions above, it's an ongoing project. We're up to 135 now.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:16 PM on April 21, 2010

By the way, that proof is only valid for enumerable sets.

Actually, you just need the set to be well-ordered. Which, if you buy the axiom of choice, is every set.

Therefor, every number is interesting.
posted by kmz at 11:21 PM on April 21, 2010

Also the number of hours in a day, unless you're in the military.

I'm not in the military, but I'm pretty sure I have 24 hours in my day.
posted by kmz at 11:24 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

I like this a lot. I think if I spend most of the day @ work tomorrow on Wolfram no sirens will go off in the IT dept. But, what's w/ all the manipulations to make palindromes? 73 of the numbers in the list become palindromes (after certain manipulations, of course). What's the intrigue w/ palindromic (my word) numbers?

And despite the "???" on several numbers, I don't see this page as having much in the way of shortcuts on it. E.g.
9002 is a value of n so that n(n+7) is a palindrome.

I would've just taken the shortcut and said "Add 7 and it's a palindrome", but damn, 9002 * 9009 does = 81099018! Damn!
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:48 PM on April 21, 2010

This is one of my very favorite web pages. Because I am an enormous dork.

Thanks, zardoz.
posted by Limiter at 12:17 AM on April 22, 2010

the number of Platonic solids_the number of Archimedian solids_the smallest number of integer-sided boxes that tile a box so that no two boxes share a common length_the 5th Catalan number_the mathmatically perfect sexual position_the largest rep-digit triangular number
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:39 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

You might like Prime curios.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:39 AM on April 22, 2010

234 is the number of ways to stack 12 pennies in a line so that each penny lies on the table or on two pennies.

OH MY GOD What if I don't have PENNIES? HOW WILL I EVER VERIFY TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR?!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:54 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also for the non-mathematically inclined is the Deck of Cards. For some reason hearing Wink Martindale's version turned me off of game shows forever.
posted by kgander at 3:16 AM on April 22, 2010

the mathematically perfect sexual position

Whoa, back up.

I can't decide if this is a topological, geometric, or combinatorial problem.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:34 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speaking of numbers with special meanings, here's the Supreme Mathematics as brought to you by the Nation of Gods and Earths. Now go build!
posted by NoMich at 3:53 AM on April 22, 2010

I will have to mention the previous post about number gossip.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:16 AM on April 22, 2010

Cool thing thx vm.
I will dispute though that it's every number; there's no entry for 1965. (I'm a pedant I know)
posted by Monkeymoo at 4:26 AM on April 22, 2010

The largest number is about 45,000,000,000 although mathematicians suspect that there may be even larger numbers.
posted by kcds at 4:39 AM on April 22, 2010

1 = Number of my brains currently hurting from this kind of math this early in the morning.
posted by Samizdata at 4:52 AM on April 22, 2010

24 is the highest number
posted by wobh at 6:07 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Where is 18? After all: "18 is the only number that is twice the sum of its digits."
posted by emhutchinson at 6:34 AM on April 22, 2010

32 footsteps, counted 'em myself, 32 footsteps.
posted by Foosnark at 6:40 AM on April 22, 2010

54 - 46 was my number.
posted by adamvasco at 6:55 AM on April 22, 2010

Am a little disappointed that I didn't see:

25: or 6 to 4.

Also, see the always-excellent Radiolab on Numbers.
posted by jquinby at 7:14 AM on April 22, 2010

Oh, well, now I'll never forget my pin number, if I can remember which number sums all the numbers whose digits sum to that number. Wait, did I say that right?

Apart from that, 'special meaning' is a bit hyperbolic for most of these numbers. And '6409 is a house number' is just plain silly. Dear Sherlock: they're ALL house numbers.
posted by Twang at 7:34 AM on April 22, 2010

17 has been my favorite number. But the reason it is special for this particular mathematician is very strange and wondrous (and incomprehensible to this non-mathematician).
posted by kozad at 7:35 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Claim: There is no such thing as an uninteresting natural number.

Proof by Contradiction: Assume that you have a non-empty set of natural numbers that are not interesting. Due to the well-ordered property of the natural numbers, there must be some smallest number in the set of uninteresting numbers. Being the smallest number of a set one might consider not interesting makes that number interesting after all: a contradiction. (via wiki)
posted by jonp72 at 8:08 AM on April 22, 2010

I'm pretty sure some of this is going to be the basis for some Car Talk Puzzlers.
posted by grubi at 9:33 AM on April 22, 2010

Counter-contradiction: According to that list, it looks like 391 is the smallest uninteresting number.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:39 AM on April 22, 2010

6680 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 0.
6681 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 1.
6682 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 2.
6683 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 3.
6684 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 4.
6685 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 5.
6686 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 6.
6687 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 7.
6688 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 8.
6689 = 6666 + 6 + 8 + 9.

That's just stupid.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2010

Well, this thread is already going strong; but this was posted previously.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:52 AM on April 22, 2010

Eeeevery number is saaaacred. Eeevery number is greeeat...
posted by brundlefly at 10:47 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite number changes occasionally, but at the moment it's the Grothendieck prime (57).
posted by madmethods at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2010

99 red balloons...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2010

23 is the smallest number of integer-sided boxes that tile a box so that no two boxes share a common length. fnord

fixed that for them
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:59 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Number 391: the first unspecial number.
posted by stp123 at 6:10 PM on April 22, 2010

On re-read, like 2 other people pointed out up thread. Maybe its not so special after all.
posted by stp123 at 6:21 PM on April 22, 2010

Wow. I'd find it hard to believe that all of these facts about numbers are actually useful in some way.
posted by Ryogen at 10:26 PM on April 22, 2010

YOU TAKE YOUR "USEFUL" AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS (WHERE IT WILL RELIEVE CONSTIPATION)
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:22 PM on April 22, 2010

Ryogen: “Wow. I'd find it hard to believe that all of these facts about numbers are actually useful in some way.”

Heidegger would probably point out to you that the qualitative differentiation between the numbers is far more impactful upon the way the world presents itself to us than any sort of "continuum" of numbers. In other words: oneness is a primary experience of existence: we experience ourselves as one, and we experience each thing as one. Language itself seems to be based, at least in part, upon this. And duality, too, has a particular nature; it's the beginning of multitude, of manyness. It might be that oneness isn't fully comprehended until multiplicity enters into it. Three is the first non-complementary multitude; and so on. Numbers have real and significant qualitative differences.
posted by koeselitz at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2010

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