Some numbers have sinister connotations, like Friday the 13th, while others are almost divine. Here are 10 of the most famous numbers in the world.
Seen as an unlucky number, it’s considered most sinister if the calendar date falls on a Friday. In fact, the number is important enough to have a fear named just after itself—triskaidekaphobia!
or The Golden Ratio; denoted as Φ (phi), the golden ratio has fascinated intellectuals for almost 2,500 years as it describes perfect proportions and is also considered as the most aesthetically pleasing. You can find it everywhere—flower petals, sea shells, our fingers, animal bodies, spiral galaxies and even the Taj Mahal.
Pi, the most famous mathematical constant, is the number you always get when you divide a circle’s circumference by its diameter. Pi’s digits run to almost a million, and it’s the only number to have a day all to itself—Pi Day, celebrated on Mar 14.
Whether it’s the Holy Trinity in Christianity or the holy trio of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh in Hinduism, three has many divine associations in various religions. It’s also the first prime number and the smallest number of lines that make an enclosed space (a triangle).
The coolest number, thanks to James Bond, 007 brings to mind a suave, debonair man who can handle any crisis with elan while juggling, and keeping happy, multiple women.
A symbol for love and friendship, even its sideways form ‘∞’ is very famous—the mark of infinity and eternity. Its importance covers almost all fields, from an octave in music and 8-legged spiders to the eight spokes of the Buddhist dharmachakra and computer’s 8 bits that make a byte.
The default setting for watches, the number is loved by horologists because it’s aesthetically pleasing—the upward hands look positive, they are symmetrical and don’t overlap, and the additional elements as well as the manufacturer’s logo can be clearly seen. And it looks like a smile!
In India’s slang, the number describes a sly scoundrel and swindler, inspired from Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code relating to cheating and dishonesty. It’s sometimes accompanied by a numeric brethren, 9-2-11 (nau-do-gyarah), a slang for ‘run away’.
Another malevolent number—called the ‘number of the beast’ in the New Testament. It’s a motif in various horror films and books, including the sinister The Omen. Not surprising that some people are so scared of it that they are said to suffer from ‘hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia’.
Mathematically, it’s very interesting since it’s the sum of the first 36 natural numbers.
The number that inspired the name of the search engine Google, a googol is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The term was invented by Milton Sirotta, the 9-year nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner, who thought that such a large number could only be called something as silly as a “googol.”