510: Number Freak by Derrick Niederman

by Gerard

510: Niederman, Derrick. Number Freak: From 1 to 200 — The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed. New York: Perigee, 2009. 284 pp. ISBN 978-0-399-53459-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Science
  • 510: Mathematics

Every number has a story to tell. And Derrick Niederman, in Number Freak, tells them from 1 to 200.

This book has on the surface a very simple premise: Find the significance of each integer from 1 to 200 to convey a deeper sense of how math, science, and popular culture interact. Even the most boring of numbers has at least one interesting thing in its history.

Here are some my favorites:

56: There are 56 Aubrey holes in the Stonehenge monument.

76: Each of the powers of 76 (76 squared, cubed, etc.) result in a number that always ends in 76. This is the definition of an automorphic number.

85: There are precisely 85 ways to tie a knot in a necktie.

123: Dialing 123 in the United Kingdom will get you British Telecom’s “speaking clock.”

167: There were exactly 167 bullet holes shot into Bonnie and Clyde’s getaway car on their death in 1934.

189: 189 equals 12 plus 34 plus 56 plus 78 plus 9.

There’s not much else to it. But, it’s fun to read every now and again.