899: Number Line
Title text: The Wikipedia page List of Numbers opens with "This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it."
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Once again, Randall seems to be just messing around, this time with a number line.
- Negative numbers have the same magnitude as positive numbers but can only be used to represent the removal of that same magnitude (hence the term "difference" being used for subtraction).
- 0.99.... is provably equal to 1 because there is no number between 0.99.... and 1. (Binary 0.0000000000000000000000000001 = 0.0000000037252902984619140625)
- The Golden ratio is the ratio of length to width of rectangles that are most pleasing to the eye. This number is called "phi", after the Greek sculptor Phidias, and its numeric value is approximately 1.61803. This ratio turns up in some very unexpected places in the natural and historical world: for example, the Parthenon is a perfect rectangle in size, and the number of left- and right-handed spirals on the head of Sunflowers are also related by this ratio. In this case, Randall is playing on the fact that the golden ratio is oddly ubiquitous by implying that its existence is the subject of a conspiracy or other "fringe" theory.
- Forbidden Region and Unexplored are both map jokes.
- e (Euler's number) is 2.71828... and π (pi) is 3.14159265...
- 2.9299372 is a President's Day reference. It is the average of e and pi just as the American Presidents' Day is always observed on the 3rd Monday of February (between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays). (For non-US residents, Washington and Lincoln were the 1st and 16th Presidents of the USA, respectively. Each has a celebrated place in American history.)
- Gird could be a reference to any or all of:
Interestingly, gird seems to resemble an older shape of the digit 4, such as seen on this Ptolemaic world map from 1482.
- Site of the Battle of 4.108 is another map joke, implying that 4.108 is an actual location, where an eponymous battle was previously fought. It may be a reference (or homage) to the Battle of Wolf-359, a famous military conflict in the fictional universe of Star Trek.
- It is often the case in the media that "It has been 7 years..." or "In the last 7 years..." etc. It is made to seem like a believable statistic but cannot always be true. Alternatively, it is intended as an absurd joke that the number 7 is just "not to be believed".
- 8 is not the largest even prime. 2 is. A joke intended for those who clearly know that the claim is false.
- The last entry seems to be a reference to discrete mathematics, which rarely deals with numbers higher than 9. It finishes off the tone of the comic that seems to be shaping the number line terms of what is commonly useful to certain areas of applied mathematics, rather than a complete, accurate version of the number line.
- The title text is a literalist joke implying that Wikipedia would like its "List of numbers" page to include every number from negative infinity to infinity.
- [Number line ranging from -1 to 10.]
- [Arrow pointing left, towards negative numbers] Negative "imitator" numbers (do not use)
- [Line right before the number one] 0.99... (acutally 0.0000000372 less than 1)
- [Line at the golden ratio.] Φ - Parthenon; sunflowers; golden ratio; wait, come back, I have facts!
- [Line at a region between two and 2.2] forbidden region
- [Line at Euler's number.] e
- [Line a bit before 3] 2.9299372 (e and pi, observed)
- [Line at π.] π
- [Line at 3.5 with a ribbon as the numeral] Gird - accepted as canon by orthodox mathematicians
- [Line a bit after 4.] site of battle of 4.108
- [Blob between 4.5 and 6.5 labeled unexplored.]
- [Line at seven.] Number indicating a factoid is made up ("every 7 years...", "science says there are 7...", etc)
- [Line at eight.] Largest even prime
- [Line at 8.75.] If you encounter a number higher than this, you"re not doing real math
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