A Biography of Numbers

In the past few years, I’ve seen books written about lots of different things like elements, molecules, and colors. I’m surprised that no one has written a biography of numbers.

Math nerds like me would love this book. I’m thinking it would look like Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. Each page would have a fancy drawing of the number with some text. For Example:

The text would look something like below. Most of the text here comes from 42’s Wikipedia page (yes, 42 has a Wikipedia page)

  • Popular Culture:
  • Science and Technology:
  • Some interesting mathematical facts about 42. Here are a few of the ones I could understand:
    • Forty-two (42) is a pronic number (product of two consecutive integers) and an abundant number (the sum of its factors is larger than the number)
    • Its prime factorization 2 · 3 · 7 makes it the second sphenic number and also the second of the form (2 · 3 · r).
    • 42 is the sum of the first 6 positive even numbers.
    • 42 is the resulting number of the original Smith number (4937775 = 3 × 5 × 5 × 65837): Both the sum of its digits (4 + 9 + 3 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 5) and the sum of the digits in its prime factorization (3 + 5 + 5 + (6 + 5 + 8 + 3 + 7)) result in 42.
    • The numbers 1 to 27 can form a  3 × 3 × 3 magic cube such that every row, column, and corridor, and every diagonal passing through the center, is composed of 3 numbers whose sum of values is 42.

Unfortunately, the quality of Wikipedia pages varies and I haven’t seen any others as good as 42. Here are some other facts I’d add to the book:

And then you’d need a special section with special numbers like 0, π, e, the golden ratio, i, and all those other fun ones that math geeks love. I found a good site called Archimedes Lab with some fun facts about these special numbers.

I  really like this idea but will never actually create the book. I hope someone else does though! And until then, tell me what other numbers you like.