Liberal Arts Blog — Magic Numbers

Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, and Numbers Day

Today’s Topic — Magic Numbers (1,2,3,5,7)

Math is the language of nature. But some numbers are super magic. Just check out the “Noble Gases” in the Periodic Table and the number of electrons in filled shells that give them stability — 2, 10, 18, 36, 54. 86. But there are also magic numbers within the nucleus — some isotopes are more stable than others because of the magic ratio of protons to neutrons. But I won’t go into that here. Today, my personal favorite super magic numbers and why they are so special to me. What makes each special is that they are all mnemonics. They are reminders of what matters most in life. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

ONE, TWO, THREE: THE MOST MAGIC OF NUMBERS

1. One: what matters most to you? what is your north star? Mine is gratitude. the religious call it piety. With Cicero, I believe that gratitude is not only the first of the virtues but the parent of all the others. The third graphic in the Appendix is the Sikh symbol of the One Supreme Reality.

2. Two: a symbol of paradox, the numerical incarnation of the yin/yang symbol. Everything comes in twos. The thing and its opposite. Action and Reaction. Night and day. Right and wrong. Inhale with gratitude. Exhale with kindness.

3. Three: the triangle, the simplest of shapes, the truss, the basic unit of the Eiffel tower, the Trinity, the Triptych. What is your trinity? Mine is: Gratitude, Kindness, and Truth. With Gratitude at the apex.

FIVE — THE NUMBER OF FINGERS ON YOUR RIGHT AND LEFT HANDS

1. Counting with your fingers is a natural act. Let each hand remind you of the ten things that matter most to you — your ten commandments as it were.

2. My left hand is my “micro ethics” hand. The hand of the five virtues that my left hand should remind me of wherever I am: gratitude, kindness, courage, prudence, temperance.

3. My right hand is my “macro ethics” hand. The hand of the five “macro virtues” — truth, freedom, justice, peace, and prosperity.

SEVEN — THE OUTER LIMIT OF HUMAN MEMORY — 6 X 7 = 42

1. Seven Joys — math, literature, science, music, art, sports, history.

2. Seven Civic Issues: (you know the daily drill)

3. Seven Micro Virtues (add diligence and excellence to the 5 finger list). Seven Macro Virtues (add rights and responsibilities to the 5 finger version)

NB: And then there are the Seven Tools of Critical Thinking (the thematic journal, matrix, calendar, club, capstone, before and after test, and checklist). And the Seven Civic Disciplines (ethics, economics, history, politics, rhetoric, statistics, law) Numerologists of the world — unite!

APPENDIX

The Sikh Symbol for the One Supreme Reality, Ik Onkar, the first words of the “Mul Mantra” — the Sikh equivalent of the Gayatri mantra.

Magic number | atomic structure

Magic number (physics)

Periodic table

YOUR TURN

So what are your personal favorite magic numbers? What do they stand for? Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to math, statistics, or numbers in general. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to math.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something you might otherwise forget Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.