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# Curious Facts

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• On average, 20 000 Britons choose the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in the national lottery each week. Should they ever win the jackpot they should expect to receive less than £10 000.

[Source: The Observer, 6 July 2003.]

• If all the blood vessels in the adult human body were laid end to end they would stretch to approximately 160,000 kilometres; four times around the Earth.
• The 10 Commandments contain 297 words. The Bill of Rights is stated in 463 words. Lincon's Gettysburg Address contains 266 words. A recent federal directive to regulate the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words. [Source: The Atlanta Journal.]
• When Albert Einstein applied for the position of lecturer at Berne University in 1907, his Relativity paper, submitted as part of his application, was declared incomprehensible by the professor of experimental physics.
• Carl Friedrich Gauss discovered that every integer is expressible as the sum of three triangular numbers (eg 50 = 1 + 21 +28).
• There are two species of cicada, Magicicada and septendecim and Magicicada tredecim, which have a life cyle of 17 and 13 years respectively. They remain in the ground for all but their last year of life, when overnight they emerge en masse from the ground into the forest where for six weeks they sing, mate, eat, lay eggs and then die. The fact that they have both evloved prime number life cycles is thought to be key to their survival. For example, by evolving life cycles of 17 and 13 years the the two species only have to share the forest floor every 221 years (221 = 17 x 13).

[Source: The Music of the Primes: why an unsolved problem in mathematics matters. Marcus duSautoy]

• 1,729 is an interesting numnber.

Explanation: Srinivasa Ramanujan was a maverick, genius who travelled from his native India to Cambridge to work in the field of mathematics with G.H.Hardy. Although their relationship had been almost exclusively confined to the joys of studying mathematics together, Hardy later confessed that Ramanujan had been the one true love of his life. Sadly, after several years of productive research, Ramanujan became unwell and so depressed that he tried to take his own life.

One day, whilst visiting Ramanujan in a London nursing home, Hardy, exhibiting the archetypal characteristics of a mathematician, struggled to find the appropriate words of comfort or sympathy for his downhearted friend. All he could think of was to inform the ailing Ramanujan that he had travelled in a taxi with a very dull number - 1,729. Lying sick and miserable on his bed, Ramanujan's spirits stirred. His animated response is one the great quotes and anecdotes in the history of mathematics: "No, Hardy! No, Hardy! It is a very interesting number. It is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways."

He was correct: 1, 729 = 13 + 123 = 103 + 93

[Source: The Music of the Primes: why an unsolved problem in mathematics matters. Marcus du Sautoy]

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