Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Numbers

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one. But, what are our favorite numbers?

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Nice series of Top 5 recently guys – what is the next one- Top Five Letters? Top Five Punctuation Marks? :-) :-)

    I must admit I was surprised to hear Matthew on this episode given his ever-so-frequent mantra on Critical Hit of ‘Math is hard’, I figured he might run away from a Top Five about numbers.

    Ok, all teasing aside, on to the list.

    5) 42 – yep it is a cliche, yep it was Steven’s #5 too. But being a fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well as a baseball fan (Jackie Robinson + Mariano Rivera), it had to be on the list.

    4) 666 – Just the chaos and angst that this number generates entertains me. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, the appearance of that number anywhere would whip up a firestorm of controversy and fear. Plus it is a solid Iron Maiden tune.

    3) 1 – I am a sports guy, so I was always trying to be #1. I also frequently tell people they are number 1 with my hand. feel free to guess on your own which finger it is. :-)

    2) 999,999,999,999,999,999,999 So the story behind this number: As a cocky/nerdy 1st grader back in 197x, I was asked to fill out a paper for parent night and one of the questions was ‘What is the highest number you can count to?’
    This was the number I wrote down. My teacher, (Mrs. Pilachowski) brought it to me and asked, laughing, why I chose that number (I assume she thought I just randomly wrote a big number because I was really good at math and a cocky little guy) – so I told her that I was not sure what number came after 999 quintillion 999 quadrillion 999 trillion 999 billion 999 million 999 thousand 999 – was is sexillion or hexillion. I knew septillion and octillion were next, but the ‘6’ number had me stuck. I did note that I thought I would be a little tired after counting that high. I vaguely remember her laughiong, sighing and walking away after my response.

    1) 15 -The jersey number of my favorite athlete, the greatest catcher to ever play baseball, Thurman Munson. I was devastated when he died in 1979. Oh and 15 is also my wife’s birthday. That is kinda important too I guess.

  2. This was a fun listen, guys. Here’s my list:

    5) 1.618 – This number is the “Golden Ratio” that is supposed to represent the most aesthetically pleasing rectangular shape. The facade of the Parthenon is built to these dimensions, and interesting things happen when you start dividing a golden rectangle into squares, unlocking number theory concepts like the Fibonacci sequence.

    4) Eleventy Million – I fully expected this to be on Matthew’s list. It’s a number that has always represented some unearthly amount of something, particularly money. He has often claimed that he bought me food so often during college that I owe him Eleventy Million dollars (which I guess would be $110,000,000?). The also-ran in this category would be a “Skrabillion”, which is a number I’ve only ever heard Matthew speak of. Incidentally, another favorite podcast of mine recently aired an episode that talks about what are called “indefinite hyperbolic numerals”. Check it out!

    3) 52 – I’m repeating this from Stephen, but for different reasons. The number 52 interests me because it represents two commonly discussed things: The number of weeks in a year and the number of cards in a deck. Its largest divisor, 26, is equally interesting, representing the number of letters in the English alphabet and the number of miles in a marathon (give or take). Also, let’s not forget the B-52s. Love Shack, baby!

    2) 6.02 x 10^23 – I have a specific memory of my high school chemistry teacher, a remarkable man of Persian extraction with a thick accent, explaining that, if you have an amount of a substance equal to its atomic number in grams, and were able to count the number of atoms or molecules in that sample, it would always be this same very large, but also very precise number. It was a concept that opened up to me the whole idea that chemistry was a mathematical science, as opposed to just mixing things together in beakers and seeing what would happen. it was a revelation to me.

    1) 13 – Traditionally unlucky, 13 has special meaning to me because my wife’s birthday falls on July 13. It also gives rise to one of my favorite words, “triskaidekaphobia”, which is fear of the number. Also, if you multiply it by four, you get 52 again! :-)

  3. Always fun to hear your lists, though I was surprised to not hear 20 appear in either of your lists. Though I suppose it did get a notable mention at the end…

    5) 20 — It’s always great when you get that nat 20, and carnage that usually ensues with critical hit damage. This reason alone is why 20 has to appear on my list.

    4) 3.141529… — Irrational numbers are very interesting, and, if I’m correct, there is not a repeating sequence in pi which, apparently, makes it good for cryptography. Whether that’s true or not, it’s at least very impressive that some (probably Ancient Greek) dude took the time to work out pi to the n-th degree.

    3) √−1 — Not only are irrational numbers interesting, but so too are the imaginary numbers and this number (i, for the non-mathematical) adds a whole new set of numbers. Pretty cool.

    2) 2.71828… — As a cooler irrational number than pi, e represents the base of the natural logarithm and is used a lot in compound interest. What makes it cooler than pi, is that it numerically represents change and a lot of natural patterns (seashell spirals, bacterial growth) follow this growth pattern. Very cool indeed.

    1) 0 — Perhaps the best number (hence its place of prominence in my list) for two reasons: (i) it isn’t a real concept in that it represents nothing (you can’t count 0 chairs, for example); and (ii) Ancient Greek mathematician Euler calculated that 0 = e^(i . pi) which includes my numbers 4-2, which makes 0 even cooler!

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