A Further Five Numbers

Simon Singh begins a new investigation into the history and merits some of the most special numbers in maths.

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01One2005082320070730

Simon Singh begins a new investigation into the history and merits some of the most special numbers in maths.

One is the root of all counting, but it turns out to be the most frequent first digit of any number.

A deep law of mathematics declares that the universe of numbers cannot avoid the popularity of 1, and it is now proving a useful tool in spotting faked data and fraud.

02Two2005083020070731

is the basis of all even numbers but it's the idea of doubling that has established two as one of the most important tools in maths.

Its power can never be underestimated, from the growth of computer speed to its role in some of the latest theories in the expansion of our universe.

03Six2005090620070801

The number six is a rare perfect number, once revered by ancient civilisations.

But how is it that everyone is linked by just six social ties? The number six is emerging as the key to understanding the nature of social networks, and is offering new insights into helping us understand all sorts of other connections from electric power grids to nerve cell groupings in our brains.

04G: Newton's Gravitational Constant2005091320070802

Ever since Newton included G in his equations that define the strength of gravity there has been an ever greater desire to measure this tiny number with increasing accuracy.

But what does the value of G mean for the universe? If G was different, it would mean that stars would either burn too quickly or not form at all.

So is G perfectly tuned for life?

05 LAST17292005092020070803

is the first of the Ramanujan numbers or taxicab numbers.

Its the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubed numbers in two different ways.

Mathematicians are competing, to seek more of them (with higher powers) as their properties hold the key to securing financial transactions over the internet.