Here is a story we liked today. We do have a favorite, and the survey around here was that many of us have chosen one that relates to a sports star who is popular, thinking we suppose this will make us perform better. We know shallow, but hey.
What’s The World’s Favorite Number?
It’s a simple question, really, but a cunning one, because the answers are so embarrassingly, voluptuously personal. Alex Bellos thought it up. He’s a writer, math enthusiast, and nut.
Here’s what he wants: He wants to know your favorite number. Just that. Tell me your favorite, and tell me why, he says.
He’s set up a website, www.favoritenumber.net and he’s asked people to write in. So far he’s had about 13,000 submissions. He wants more. So I’m pimping his site here, and while it’s early in the running, Alex has already noticed that odd numbers are more popular than even numbers, prime numbers more popular than non-primes, birthdays are often favorites, but the real fun is how people fantasize.
For example, why choose “37?”
Because, says a 37-liker, “It looks mysterious, like a cloaked villain from a silent movie.” Really?
Or how about “17?” One person chose 17 because …
It just seems like a colossal misfit. Many numbers, even some prime numbers, if they are not even, they still feel “round.” Not 17, though. It’s awkward and slightly difficult to deal with.
Not everybody is this peculiar. The most common reason to have a favorite number is it’s the day you were born, especially if you were born on the 3rd, the 5th, the 9th, the 13th. “If you were born, like me, on the 22nd,” Alex says, “you are unlikely to choose your birthday as your favorite number.” He has yet to find anyone who chose 30, even if they were born on the 30th. “It just doesn’t happen,” he says. He doesn’t know why.
Another mystery: Not many people like 1 or 10.
But the deep surprise, he says, is how passionate people are. “It’s looking at numbers in a totally different way. You learn mathematical things, you learn human things, sometimes you want to laugh, sometimes you want to cry.”
Here’s one submission, from a guy who chose “6″:
It’s a bit of an underdog — some think it’s evil (666), when it’s only just a number; it’s halfway to a dozen (and six of one), which makes it an average amount; the rather boring shape of a cube has six sides; it’s stuck between 5 (a nice definite number — of fingers, of golden rings, of basketball players) and lucky number 7 (a religious number; God rested on the 7th day … the Seven Lucky Gods of Japanese mythology). All these reasons make 6 a bit of an underdog.
He’s not done:
I like how it looks. I also enjoy the more uncommon letters, so the ‘x’ within the simplicity of ‘six’ makes it sound enigmatic (although I also love how it sounds in Spanish: ‘seis’). Maybe the Latin prefix ‘sex’ has something to do with it, although I’ve liked the number since I was way too young … quite possibly since I was six. Additionally, for unexplained and coincidental reasons — or perhaps because it is my favorite number, and thus it has a subconscious edge — some of the best songs on many of my favorite albums happen to be the sixth track. Oh, and there’s Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon. That’s kinda cool.
Who’s Winning? Read more…