Pick a Number, Win a Book

i-fb4cad21607ad5eb382f1a9794d397ef-sm_jackpot.jpg

As you can see from the picture, my desk is a mess. Also, I’ve come into possession of a second free copy of Paul Davies’s new book Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life (one is an advance reading copy in trade paper, the other a spiffy new hardback). You can read my lukewarm review, from which you can easily deduce that I don’t actually need to own two copies of this book.

Thus, I am pleased to announce The Offical Uncertain Principles Cosmic Jackpot Giveaway Contest. I will give away one of these two copies to the person who successfully completes the following challenge:

Pick a number.

Leave a comment containing one and only one number (this means you, Jonathan Vos Post). The person with the best number wins the extra copy of Cosmic Jackpot, plus the promotional material included by the publisher.

Contest entries must be received in comments by midnight on Sunday, April 8, 2007. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 9, and will need to contact me with a shipping address to claim the prize. One entry per person, no purchase necessary, void where prohibited.

(Credit where due: Kate actually suggested “Pick a number” as the contest topic. She wasn’t serious, but I actually think it’s kind of appropriate, so here you go…)

Comments

  1. #1 Aaron Bergman
    April 4, 2007

    2

  2. #2 Jimbo
    April 4, 2007
  3. #3 KevinQ
    April 4, 2007

    Not my number, but a good number all the same:

    H{F(n)}=F^n(n);H{H{H{H{BB(9)}}}}

    It’s the xkcd number, explanation here:
    http://blag.xkcd.com/2007/03/14/large-numbers/#comments

  4. #4 Nathan White
    April 4, 2007

    23

    Always liked it… (plus, its much more random than 17!)

  5. #5 Stuart Coleman
    April 4, 2007

    Are we picking numbers like 2 ad 26 or like e and pi? I’d go with two for the former, but Aaron already took it (damn you!), and probably h-bar for the latter, although e and pi are awfully tempting.

  6. #6 mollishka
    April 4, 2007

    0.

  7. #7 Edi
    April 4, 2007

    1970

  8. #8 qetzal
    April 4, 2007

    18.579

    It’s my lucky number.

  9. #9 CCPhysicist
    April 4, 2007

    42.

    137 considered and rejected as inexact pandering.

  10. #10 Scott Spiegelberg
    April 4, 2007

    7: number of notes in the diatonic scale, number of colors in refracted light (because Newton wanted it to be similar to the diatonic scale).

  11. #11 Pseudonym
    April 4, 2007

    1/BB(1) + 1/BB(2) + 1/BB(3) + …

    where BB is the busy beaver function.

  12. #12 Nelly
    April 4, 2007

    e^i

  13. #13 magista
    April 4, 2007

    11

    Nothing fancy…

  14. #14 Ponderer of Things
    April 4, 2007

    17

  15. #15 Jeff
    April 4, 2007

    i

    My number’s imaginary!

  16. #16 Natalie
    April 4, 2007

    366

  17. #17 Matt B.
    April 4, 2007

    10^500

  18. #18 yami
    April 4, 2007

    c

  19. #19 Davis
    April 4, 2007

    1729. It’s the smallest number that can be written as the sum of two cubes in two different ways, and has a Ramanujam story to go with it.

  20. #20 Ponder Stibbons
    April 4, 2007

    A googol.

  21. #21 Erik V. Olson
    April 4, 2007

    N, where N = the winning number.

    Somehow, I’m sure this isn’t going to work.

  22. #22 Eric Irvine
    April 4, 2007

    uhmmm, … 21

    (42, the answer to everything was taken)

  23. #23 NL
    April 4, 2007

    1/137, exactly. In honor of E.R. Eddington, bless his hopeful heart.

  24. #24 Upstate NY
    April 4, 2007

    206

    It’s how you get home.

  25. #25 John Kingman
    April 4, 2007

    1 (one)

  26. #26 Dennis
    April 4, 2007

    Eleventy-one

  27. #27 gabey
    April 4, 2007

    e^((i \pi)/5) is my favorite number, therefore the best number.

  28. #28 jrolsma
    April 4, 2007

    300 for the pop culture king.

  29. #29 Kail
    April 4, 2007

    Thirty-seven!

  30. #30 Stephen
    April 4, 2007

    5318008

    /no, not a phone number…think TI-83

  31. #31 Heidi
    April 4, 2007

    Eight-seven. I just like the way it sounds.

  32. #32 Coin
    April 4, 2007

    2/(1 + sqrt(5))

  33. #33 Heidi
    April 4, 2007

    of course it would sound even better if I didn’t typo. So, to clarify: Eighty-seven. 87.

  34. #34 glenstein
    April 4, 2007

    ∞/0

  35. #35 a cornellian
    April 4, 2007

    422

  36. #36 Edi
    April 4, 2007

    a number.

  37. #37 Thomas
    April 5, 2007

    I don’t know about best, but I’d say 26 is an okay, average number. It may not be as sexy as celebrities like π, ln(3), or Chaitin’s constant, all the same it’s still physically relevant in the real world. For example, 26 is the number of protons in the (ordinary-matter) nucleus with the highest binding energy – 56-Iron [1]. Another real-world example is that 26=25+1 [2], the number of spacetime dimensions [3]. It’s practical to know the dimension of the spacetime you live in – otherwise how could you read a map? So 25+1 is useful to know when you’re driving.

    John Baez points out that 26 is special because it’s (1+1) more than 24, and 24 is the only integer N>1 such that 1^2 + 2^2 + … + N^2 is a perfect square. [4] Kinda neat.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Binding_energy_curve_-_common_isotopes.svg
    [2] my calculator
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosonic_string_theory
    [4] http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/week124.html

  38. #38 Kevin
    April 5, 2007

    “nullity” because it’s *so* cool and revolutionary (http://tinyurl.com/yl47tq)

    haha…right

  39. #39 Sohum
    April 5, 2007

    I’ve been lurking for a while…

    \frac{1}{\aleph_0}, i.e., an infinitesimal in number systems where it is allowed and zero in all other (“normal” ;)) ones. I like number systems where you can do meaningful arithmetic with infinity, and I like higher infinities than the normal one. Of course, there isn’t much practical value, but who said mathematics had to be practical?

    Also, I like 0.

  40. #40 Luke
    April 5, 2007

    66^66, as recently featured in footnote 3 of Douglas Scott and Ali Frolop’s model of natural dark energy.

  41. #41 smart arse
    April 5, 2007

    299792458
    because I DO NOT WANT THESE BOOKS!

  42. #42 Dlanod
    April 5, 2007

    1

    It is the first of many.

  43. #43 Kim
    April 5, 2007

    555

  44. #44 Craig
    April 5, 2007

    44, the maximum weight of a regulation curling stone in pounds.

  45. #45 theoreticalminimum
    April 5, 2007

    -1/12

    Because zeta(-1)=1+2+3+4+…=-1/12, and it still baffles me. Imagine an economy working on zeta(-1).. Unimaginable! Yet, it is what fixes D to 26 in bosonic string theory when Lorentz invariance is required.

  46. #46 Kim
    April 5, 2007

    The Number Fex.

  47. #47 Kaj
    April 5, 2007

    4*8*15*16*23*42 = 7418880

    So my number: 7418880

    Parhaps it’s ill adviced to use those numbers for a lottery… but then again… I’m not a beliver :D

    Explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythology_of_Lost#The_Numbers

  48. #48 Johat
    April 5, 2007

    Hmmm….

    2009

    I´ll explain why if I win.

  49. #49 Brad S
    April 5, 2007

    6575309

    B-)

  50. #50 Paul A
    April 5, 2007

    blue

  51. #51 TM
    April 5, 2007

    square root of -13

  52. #52 Melanie
    April 5, 2007

    Someone took 2, so I’ll take 4. Having many nice properties, such as 2+2=2*2=2^2=4. Smallest non-prime even number. Also the number of the date and the month that you posted this. I think I have made my case for 4.

  53. #53 perry
    April 5, 2007

    the fine structure constant

    alpha! Which is NOT 1/137 :-)

  54. #54 SN
    April 5, 2007

    70.0 degrees

    This is the answer to the question:
    A 0.001 60-nm photon scatters from a free electron. For what (photon) scattering angle does the recoiling electron have kinetic energy equal to the energy of the scattered photon?

    Question #23 from chapter 40 of the Serway-Jewett Physics for Scientists and Engineers 6th edition…I’m working on my physics homework and I recognized a similar book in the picture! I am in a love-hate relationship with physics.

  55. #56 cisko
    April 5, 2007

    א

    Thanks, Georg!

  56. #57 Halcy0n
    April 5, 2007

    99. Hopefully the lowest correct answer without going over. (The Price is Right was on, and if it’s good enough for Bob Barker, it’s good enough for me.)

  57. #58 inanna
    April 5, 2007

    68 Because it is hard to concentrate on two things at once and do either very well.

  58. #59 Mark-->
    April 5, 2007

    k.
    The quaternion, that is.

  59. #60 Simon
    April 5, 2007

    811.3nm

  60. #61 marcelo
    April 5, 2007

    2377#-1 = 1337247 7493552802 1377306947 0747897307 5249077111 9246250397 2542008274 0961528278 5512848282 7679601581 3181527539 7529887928 2410416157 6841170718 6066140049 1602499127 3932827667 6493177629 7669485038 8846845885 2467666950 2441705679 2411109964 8731163026 5216177441 3274847634 8754867603 1635565598 6853321514 4565452231 6276985759 4978170273 1597453940 5690841845 3710941377 2880189098 4211469619 9761393094 9581948189 5279636455 5607538598 8790517047 9384013942 6034830786 0857023244 0892550352 6119558196 4808360039 8406913755 8719954346 0647318843 1686427806 8816476675 4641407584 0449732879 9453094965 1040837553 0033390735 8786890460 7846136475 5368049547 0537374341 0598497903 4515327040 2888688217 0368591968 1754727843 7096892402 4636586472 9946369677 9426677383 3583079994 0242772885 0709528225 4823862723 1205722559 9453250791 7475470074 7465480592 8181905824 6587528173 7653497807 8632405527 4028995735 0702594954 6155246193 7927733503 9516336436 4480858911 5360409704 6204530691 1215814804 3832200967 4758221155 4527874220 9278506041 0414558021 6012429989 0767420119 2169897374 1675973189

    (that’s a single number, I don’t want to mess up people’s browsers)

  61. #62 Rebecca
    April 5, 2007

    phi!

  62. #63 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 5, 2007

    C. Not the Speed of Light, but the Number of the Continuum. C is the number of real numbers. Cantor showed that C is greater than Aleph-null, the number of integers. But how much greater? Does C = Aleph-1, the number of sets contained in Alkeph-null? Or something bigger? Smaller?

    This blog comment is in memory of Paul Cohen, supermathematician, who passed away last month, and our mutual high school alumni. His great work challenged our understanding of “number” as nobody has in decades. And Paul Cohen made C an object of extreme mystery.

    Paul Cohen, 1934-2007

    Cohen proved that the continuum hypothesis is independent of the axioms of set theory, and that the axiom of choice was independent of the other axioms.

    Godel had already established that both the continuum
    hypothesis and axiom of choice were consistent, in the sense if you could derive a contradiction by adding them as axioms then you could derive a contradiction in set theory without them. Godel accomplished this by defining a certain minimal model of set theory, the constructible universe, and showing that in this model both axioms hold.

    Paul Cohen then completed the proof of independence by showing that you can construct a model of set theory in which both axioms are false. To do so, he had to invent a new technique, known as forcing.

    So it is consistent that C is in between Aleph-null and Aleph-1. It is consistent that C is greater than Aleph-1. He said, unofficially, unprovably, that he felt C was an amazingly rich and incredible number, conceivably greater than Aleph-1, Aleph-2, Aleph-3, …, Aleph-n for all integers n, Aleph-Aleph-0, Aleph-Aleph-1, Aleph-Aleph-n for all integers n, and so forth. He felt that it was unconstructably humongous among the infinities.

    And Physicists think that set set of real numbers are a nicely behaved set of parameters of physical variables, when Paul Cohen showed that the bizarre nature of C makes “real numbers” weirder than anything H. P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, and Rudy Rucker could have cooked up together at all all night con party.

    His Wikipedia biography has the oddest snippet:

    “His twin sons Steven and Eric played the Dancing
    Twins on the TV show Ally McBeal.”

    As a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, in the same
    class as Steven E. Koonin (1968), well after Paul
    Cohen and
    * Joshua Lederberg (Class of 1941) – 1958 Nobel
    Prize in Physiology or Medicine
    * Robert Fogel (Class of 1944) – 1993 Nobel
    Memorial Prize in economics
    * Roald Hoffmann (Class of 1954) – 1981 Nobel
    Prize in Chemistry
    * Richard Axel (Class of 1963) – 2004 Nobel Prize
    in Physiology or Medicine

    but before Brian R. Greene and Lisa Randall (Class of
    1980), I can assure you that Paul Cohen was held forth as an exemplar to all aspiring Mathematicians amongs us.

    Stuyvesant’s Listing of Notable Alumni in the field of Mathematics.

    Bergman, George M.
    Graduated: 1960

    Cohen, Paul J.
    Graduated: 1950

    Elkies, Noam D.
    Graduated: 1982

    Harbater, David
    Graduated: 1970

    Hochster, Melvin
    Graduated: 1960

    Khazanov, Aleksandr
    Graduated: 1995

    Lax, Peter D.
    Graduated: 1943

    Stein, Elias M.
    Graduated: 1949

    Weichsel, Paul M.
    Graduated: 1949

    Zimmer, Robert J.
    Graduated: 1964

  63. #64 thm
    April 5, 2007

    28

    It’s my favorite perfect number.

  64. #65 ThePolynomial
    April 5, 2007

    ω1
    Eat your heart out, aleph

  65. #66 jtdub
    April 5, 2007

    1357

    Nothing clever- but I’m all about free books.

  66. #67 Jon
    April 5, 2007

    22/7

  67. #68 Nick
    April 5, 2007

    I’ll take 2 to the power of aleph-null. Did ThePolynomial and I choose the same number? Good question.

  68. #69 John Dilick
    April 5, 2007

    6191*2^459141+1

    Largest prime I personally have proved prime.

    Details here

  69. #70 Capella
    April 5, 2007

    1/9 is sorely underrated.

  70. #71 Bill LaLonde
    April 5, 2007

    1970+37i

  71. #72 TankDiveGirl
    April 5, 2007

    My number is 27.

  72. #73 N. Johnson
    April 5, 2007

    ei ?

  73. #74 Roy
    April 5, 2007

    355/113

    Before calculators had pi keys, this was (and still is) the best fit in small numbers.

    (The next better fit is 52163/16604.)

  74. #75 C. Birkbeck
    April 5, 2007

    19

  75. #76 ike
    April 5, 2007

    3872

  76. #77 Bryan
    April 5, 2007

    0b101010
    (42)

  77. #78 Simon
    April 5, 2007

    Four. Say it out loud. It is the most pleasing number.

  78. #79 CJ
    April 5, 2007

    one and only one number

  79. #80 DrSteve
    April 5, 2007

    “The number of the counting shall be..”

    3

  80. #81 Richard Campbell
    April 5, 2007

    867-5309.

  81. #82 Richard Campbell
    April 5, 2007

    1234567890.

  82. #83 Matt
    April 5, 2007

    666

  83. #84 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 5, 2007

    Per blogmeister request, I’m not submitting another number. I’m just clarifying and approving of a nice suggestion (# 78) by Simon: “Four.”

    It’s the most “honest” number in English, because FOUR has 4 letters. Long digression on “TWO CUBED” not mentioned here… Long digression on Roman numerals not mentioned either, because “Rome” is finished on HBO, and “The Sopranos” starts its final season this Sunday. Long digression on “playing the numbers” omitted because of someone named Guido walking towards me with a baseball bat…

  84. #85 PhilipJ
    April 5, 2007

    5.27285738 * 10^(-35), which, given the blog, is hbar/2 lacking the SI units.

  85. #86 medina
    April 5, 2007

    80085

  86. #87 Michael Zappe
    April 5, 2007

    I didn’t see any quaternions yet, so:

    1 + -2i + 3j + 4k

  87. #88 Tom Renbarger
    April 5, 2007

    9,192,631,770

  88. #89 Colst
    April 5, 2007

    285.2

  89. #90 Ron
    April 5, 2007

    960939379918958884971672962127852754715004339660129306651505519271702802395266424689642842174350718121267153782770623355993237280874144307891325963941337723487857735749823926629715517173716995165232890538221612403238855866184013235585136048828693337902491454229288667081096184496091705183454067827731551705405381627380967602565625016981482083418783163849115590225610003652351370343874461848378737238198224849863465033159410054974700593138339226497249461751545728366702369745461014655997933798537483143786841806593422227898388722980000748404719

  90. #91 Lindsay
    April 5, 2007

    Reynolds (number)

  91. #92 soumit
    April 5, 2007

    4

  92. #93 Andrea
    April 5, 2007

    17, because Cosmic Variance said so. As did Brust.

  93. #94 Martin Madsen
    April 5, 2007

    I’ll be a trigonometer today and vote for cos(pi/4).

  94. #95 Bob Oldendorf
    April 6, 2007

    I’m entering simply because you’re nearing 100 numbers and no one has yet suggested e.

  95. #96 musecumulus
    April 6, 2007

    12, because no other number has a better theme song/video.

  96. #97 Ross Smith
    April 6, 2007

    The smallest number that cannot be described in less than fourteen English words.

  97. #98 Bookwhore
    April 6, 2007

    121

  98. #99 Zack Weinberg
    April 6, 2007

    Skewes’ first number, eee79.

  99. #100 Jordan
    April 6, 2007

    Maybe this will help validate the hours I’ve spent watching LOST: 4 8 15 16 23 42

  100. #101 paula
    April 6, 2007

    69, a number you geeks probably know nothing about.

  101. #102 Wyatt
    April 6, 2007

    since i’m in physics right now, i’ll go with mu naught = 4piE-19

  102. #103 Wyatt
    April 6, 2007

    my bad thats 4piE-7

  103. #104 mudi-b
    April 6, 2007

    Fe2O3 + MnO2 + nH2O + Si + Al2O3
    chemical formula for an umber (all umber, i guess)
    my number is 5!

  104. #105 Stephanie Thompson
    April 6, 2007

    my number is the probability that I will win.

  105. #106 Sarah
    April 6, 2007

    43

  106. #107 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 6, 2007

    Stephanie Thompson’s number “is the probability that I will win.” That will turn out to be either 0 [ # 6 | mollishka]
    or 1 [ # 42 | Dlanod].

  107. #108 Mary
    April 6, 2007

    144

  108. #109 Alex
    April 6, 2007

    6006- very pretty, and symmetrical.

  109. #110 Livia
    April 7, 2007

    1337

  110. #111 eemeli
    April 7, 2007

    too many.

  111. #112 CCPhysicist
    April 7, 2007

    Memo chat to Wyatt:

    E is the Erdos-Borwein constant in mathematics, and Energy in physics. That you confuse the inability of some $100 calculators to display something as simple as 10^{-7} with correct notation is a sad result of technology driving teaching rather than the other way around.

    Obligatory physics comment:

    mu_0 is 1 if you choose the right units. Any number whose significance depends on the units used (such as c, which is also 1 if you choose your units properly, or hbar/2) isn’t very important in this discussion. That is why you see a predominance of dimensionless physical quantites (alpha) and a variety of interesting numbers. My vote would go to the first person to mention Ramanujan, but he spelled the name wrong.

  112. #113 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 7, 2007

    Erdos-Borwein. That’s two really amazing people in one term [# 112]. Jonathan Borwein is probably the leading figure in the “Experimental Mathematics” movement. Amazing field. Many astonishing numbers and equations found thereby.

  113. #114 Urbano
    April 7, 2007

    \hbar = c = 1

  114. #115 Dan
    April 8, 2007

    72

  115. #116 SphericalQuantumWell
    April 8, 2007

    Avogadro’s Number

  116. #117 Antangil
    April 8, 2007

    I’ve always been a fan of 1/49; 0.020408163265…..

  117. #118 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 8, 2007

    Comment on #116

    An Exact Value for Avogadro’s Number

    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/54773/page/5;jsessionid=baa9

    # Fujii, K., A. Waseda et al. 2003. Evaluation of the molar volume of silicon crystals for a determination of the Avogadro constant. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement 52:646-651.
    # Girard, G. 1990. The washing and cleaning of kilogram prototypes at the BIPM. (http://www.bipm.org/utils/en/pdf/Monographie1990-1-EN.pdf
    # Mills, I., et al. 2005. Redefinition of the kilogram: A decision whose time has come. Metrologia 42:71-80.
    # Robinson, I. 2006. Weighty matters. Scientific American 295(b):102-109.

  118. #119 Lillie
    April 8, 2007

    google

  119. #120 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 9, 2007

    Correction to #119?

    1 googol = 10^100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred. This is NOT the same as “Google.” Or is that the joke?

  120. #121 Coin
    April 9, 2007

    Dr. Vos Post:

    Perhaps 600,613?

  121. #122 jason slaunwhite
    April 9, 2007

    I pick 100.

  122. #123 Dr Eye
    April 9, 2007

    G

  123. #124 Ced
    April 11, 2007

    113

  124. #125 Swattie
    April 12, 2007

    mu – the beauty lies in its versatility.

    do i get brownie points for going to a small liberal arts college? =D

  125. #126 Pedro
    September 21, 2010

    [1+sqrt(5)]/2

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