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By Tim Glynne-Jones

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The Beatles recorded a song called ‘Revolution 9’ for the White Album, which consisted mainly of a voice intoning, ‘Number nine… number nine… number nine,’ specially designed to be spun round 1960s turntables. The Nine Worthies are heroic figures from history, frequently referred to in literature: HECTOR ALEXANDER THE GREAT GODFREY OF BOUILLON JULIUS CAESAR JOSHUA DAVID JUDAS MACCABAEUS KING ARTHUR CHARLEMAGNE 57 Book of numbers 001-060 Foul 4/5/07 2:53 pm Page 58 THE BOOK of NUMBERS 10 The number of digits on both hands, ten became the natural base for the counting system we use today, which makes it the easiest number to work with in mathematics.

First company to use a V8, in its Legalimit of 1904. However, only three were built, none of which survived. ‘One over the eight’, meaning ‘slightly drunk’, originated as an army phrase, apparently based on the assumption that a man can drink eight pints (a gallon) of beer before getting intoxicated. ❏ A V8 engine consists of two banks of four cylinders arranged together in a V-shape. This configuration is used to pack a lot of engine capacity (power) into a smaller space. French manufacturer De Dion is credited with developing the first mass-produced V8 engine in 1910, followed four years later by Cadillac, but RollsRoyce appears to have been the 53 Book of numbers 001-060 Foul 4/5/07 2:53 pm Page 54 THE BOOK of NUMBERS 9 The last single digit captured the human imagination almost as much as the heavenly seven.

But what is the reason for this? ❝I busted a mirror and got seven years’ bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five. ❞ Steven Wright, comedian W E CAN ONLY speculate as to why 7 is writ so large in religion and mythology. Could it have something to do with the fact that we can see seven ‘heavenly bodies’ of our solar system with the naked eye: the five planets mentioned in 5, plus the sun and the moon? Or could it be its sheer randomness that makes seven such a popular choice? Even numbers have symmetry, 1 has unity, 3 balance, 5 and 9 have mathematical uniformity.

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