Favourite Numbers

What’s your favourite number?

I was ambivalent on this issue until a few months ago until I came across the following quirky result: if you start with the prime number 41 and then add 2 you get 43, which is also prime and then if you add 4 to 43, you get 47: also prime. And this continues to produce prime numbers if you add successive multiples of two to your running total, UNTIL… you get to the 41st number in this sequence, which is 41 squared.

Now there is actually nothing magical about this, it’s just a freak result that probably arises from both the appeal to the human eye for this kind of neatness and the fact that there are infinitely many prime numbers.

Anyway, 41 was the answer that I gave to Alex Bellos’s survey to find out people’s favourite numbers. If you want to participate, you can do so here. Alex explains his motivation on his blog.

· Fun, Maths, Eleven, Primes, Forty One

⇠ J. G. Ballard, Concrete Island

Understated Classics #10: Tubular Bells II by Mike Oldfield ⇢