Today is Brother Paul's Birthday. As is our habit (Paul does the same for me), I was trying to think of some interesting things about the number representing his age, 47. It's a prime number, obvious enough, the fifteenth of that infinite group. It's also not a twin prime. But after thinking of these simple facts, I stumbled about. I knew I was stretching when I thought of the fact that when Paul is the age I will be on my birthday (next week), I will be the age that is given by the last two digits of my year of birth. That's really pushing it. Too arcane.
Whenever I have trouble thinking of interesting things about numbers, the Prime Curios pages, or WIkipedia will usually help me out. But most of the many facts listed for 47 are, again, too arcane. Oh, it's neat that 47 is strictly non-palindromic and that it is a Keith number, which means it is one of a Fibonacci-like sequence started from its base 10 digits. But, again, those are arcane facts.
The neat thing about the Prime Curios pages is that they list facts not only about the numbers themselves, but about historical oddities and coincidences related to the number. So I found these two, both relating to religion. First, according to the site, there are only 47 printed copies of the Gutenberg Bible still in existence. This number is mutable, since another copy could be found or one of the existing copies destroyed. And, in fact, Wikipedia lists the current known number of copies as 48, so that number is changed already. The second religious fact is that Jesus performed 47 miracles during His lifetime that are recorded in the Bible. Now this number is also suspect. What is the list? What qualifies as a miracle? What is His "lifetime"? (Does the Ascension count?) Who is "He"? (God is One, so is the Creation counted as one of Jesus's miracles?) And are the various miracles that are recorded more than once (e.g. loaves and fishes) counted more than once?
So we don't have much, really, that's interesting, lasting and immutable about 47. Even Paul won't be 47 for long. But for now, he is, and that's interesting enough. (Or it would be if he posted more often!)
Happy Birthday, Paul!