We see numbers on automobile license plates, addresses, weather reports, and, of course, on our smartphones. Yet we look at these numbers for their role as descriptors, not as an entity in and unto themselves. Each number has its own history of meaning, usage, and connotation in the larger world. The Secret Lives of Numbers takes readers on a journey through integers, considering their numerological assignments as well as their significance beyond mathematics and in the realm of popular culture. Of course we all know that the number 13 carries a certain value of unluckiness with it. The phobia of the number is called Triskaidekaphobia; Franklin Delano Roosevelt was known to invite and disinvite guests to parties to avoid having 13 people in attendance; high-rise buildings often skip the 13th floor out of superstition. There are many explanations as to how the number 13 received this negative honor, but from a mathematical point of view, the number 13 is also the smallest prime number that when its digits are reversed is also a prime number. It is honored with a place among the Fibonacci numbers and integral Pythagorean triples, as well as many other interesting and lesser-known occurrences.
In The Secret Lives of Numbers, popular mathematician Alfred S. Posamentier provides short and engaging mini-biographies of more than 100 numbers, starting with 1 and featuring some especially interesting numbers –like 6,174, a number with most unusual properties –to provide readers with a more comprehensive picture of the lives of numbers both mathematically and socially.