The Number of Things

Last week was Pi Day – 3.14. So I thought it wise to consider the number of things. Here are 25 number facts you probably didn’t know you didn’t know. Actually, there are a lot more than 25 facts, but who’s counting?

Math Geek Numbers Facts

1. Pi is an irrational number that, when expressed as a decimal, goes on without end. It is used to find the circumference of a circle, among other things. Students around the world compete to memorize and recite the string of numbers that follow 3.14. (I made it up to 3.14159265358979). The record goes to a Vellore, India university student named Rajveer Meena who recited 70,000 digits in ten hours. 

2. More than 10 to the 100th power possible chess moves have been recorded, counting some illegal moves.

3. The song “Twelve Days of Christmas includes 364 gifts. (I know, I just ruined that wonderful word problem for my math teacher friends.)

Word Geek Numbers facts

4. While there are only 26 letters in the Chinese alphabet, there are over 100,000 Chinese symbols. School children learn 3500 of those at least. The Khmer (Cambodian) alphabet contains 74 letters, but the Rotokas language in the South Pacific uses only 12 letters in their alphabet.

5. The number of times Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” says the name Lenore after stating that she would be nameless here forevermore – six.

6. Average number of words spoken per day – about 16,000. The old saying that women speak twice as many words per day as men was traced back to a marriage counseling pamphlet that provided no reference for that information. More recent studies show little difference between male and female speakers.

7. The longest word in the English language is too long to write here. It is a chemical term and has almost 190,000 letters. The second longest word is not much fun either. It’s a term for a specific type of lung disease and has 45 letters. But my favorite of the longest words is Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia with 36 letters. It means “a fear of long words!” 

8. Lorna Page, author of A Dangerous Weakness, who published her first book at age 93 is the oldest debut novelist. Other authors who published their first books after the age of 60 include Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series, Frank McCourt with Angela’s Ashes, and Delia Owens, who published Where the Crawdads Sing at the age of 69. (I’m just reminding myself it’s not too late to make this list.)

Number facts about life and death
number of things - oldest living person
Arxiu de la família Branyas Morera, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. As of March 18, 2024, the oldest living person in the world is Maria Branyas of Spain. Maria was born on March 4, 1907, in San Francisco, making her 117 years and 14 days old. (By the time you get this newsletter, Maria will be a few days older.)

Maria Branyas. (2024, March 10). In Wikipedia.

10. The number of times Days of Our Lives villain Stefano DiMera died on the show – 13. The character died of bullets, explosions, drowning, and disease. Although the actor playing DiMera died in 2016, the character’s persona was revived in 2020 through a computer chip implant to allow the villainy to continue a bit longer.


11. Over 8000 Americans are injured by toothpicks each year, according to Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta research Dr. Lawrence D. Budnick.

12. A 1991 study shows that right-handed people live almost 9 years longer than left-handed people. A 1989 study in British Columbia found that left-handed people have about a 15% higher rate of injury than right-handed people. These injuries are due to using tools, implements, and even traffic patterns that were designed for right-handed people. My husband claims left-handed people tend to steal food from other people’s plates. I could find no data to support this. You could ask him, though. I’m a leftie.

13. It took 12.5 years to go from 7 billion people (2011) to 8 billion (2022)—don’t ask me how they subtracted 2011 from 2022 and got 12.5… Projections show the world population will reach 10 billion in 2060. By that time, I’ll be too old to care.

Only a Science teacher would know…

14. There are 10 to the 78th power or 10 to the 82nd atoms in the observable universe. Personally, I think that number is off. I’m almost certain a couple of atoms were hiding under my bed on the day they were counted.

15. Cost of traveling in space – about $10,000 per pound, thanks to competitive space travel companies. Fifteen years ago, the NASA space shuttles cost about $30,000 per pound.

16. The number of people who have traveled to the International Space Station is 279 from 22 countries (mostly the U.S.). Just in case you’re interested, estimated prices for tourist travel into outer space range from $250,000 (to fly into outer space and then turn around and come back) to $60 million (aboard a Space X vessel). NASA plans to charge $35,000 per night for a 30-day stay at the ISS. I think I’ll look into a pop-up camper instead.

17. Golfballs have between 300 and 500 dimples. These tiny craters are about 0.01 inches deep and help to reduce draft and improve lift.

18. A jiffy is a real measurement of time – generally 1/100 of a second. In the fields of astrophysics and quantum physics, though, the measurement for a jiffy is more complex. Either way, I’d better stop saying, “I’ll be there in a jiffy.” At my age, it ain’t happenin.’

19. Number of chickens in the world – 33 billion; number of humans – 8 billion. We are outnumbered 4 to 1, folks! Keep a close eye on the hen house.

Number Facts for foodies

20. The average (43 gram) chocolate bar is allowed to have up to 25 insect parts before being considered “spoiled” by FDA standards. I’m not even going to think about that one. I’ll just consider it extra protein.

21. Heinz ketchup travels at the speed of 0.028 mph.

22. About 90 million chocolate bunnies are made each year for Easter. Candy sales come in at about $3 billion. 

Completely useless information

23. No one but me cares, but I had to count. There are 388 titles on my books-to-be-read-next pile. I will get to them in 72 days when I retire.

24. I probably share a birthday with about 20 million other people on earth, including Iggy Pop and the late Queen Elizabeth II.

25. It takes three syllables to say World Wide Web. It takes three times longer to say www. 

Here are a few other strange number facts, if you wanted more:

Mathnasium – 10 Math Facts You Did Not Know

Did you

Random facts about oldies music

And one book to keep your brain spinning for hours:

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