The Joy and Magic of Numbers and Maths

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 21st Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Numbers And Maths

We always imagine mathematics to be complex and almost a mythical subject, having little to do with real life, yet in fact it is able to explain many of the fundamentals of life. Through computers our lives are founded on mathematics, whether this is in calculations performed in a spreadsheet, or the building of a complex computer game.

Like Living Cells

To experience the joy and magic of mathematics is to realise that it is not an isolated subject having little or no relationship to the things around us other than to frustrate us with unbalanced chequebooks and over-complicated computations, it can be so much more and even enhance our appreciation of life. For some complex mathematical calculations you do not have to understand the calculation itself to enjoy the results that can be seen.

Many phenomena around us can also be described by mathematical equations, so a mathematician will often seek to explain what we see as random events through a calculation; albeit one that may be extremely complex. Surprisingly mathematical concepts are actually inherent in the structure of living cells which may seem a bit of an exaggeration, however fractal patterns and chaos theory have close links to the basics of life.

Always the most joyful moments of discovery are when one finds something for oneself, so a formal education in mathematics is not always essential to appreciate the power of the end result. Indeed there are so many patterns available, and this writer started creating fractal patterns programmatically 20 years ago for fun (yet I am not a mathematician). Ultimately all we need is to share the an appreciation of both the usefulness and the wonder of the world of the number

A Game of Nines

Individual numbers, like the number 9 can be magical as well, that is part of the magic of maths, and this is something your child could learn before going back to school.

Some children have a hard time with the multiplication table for 9. Yet showing them through games they can see that the results always add up to 9, let me demonstrate this through the use of the chart included here, look at any row on the table and you can see it is true, for example 5 x 9 = 45 and when you add 4 to 5 you get 9.

It is also true as you continue outside the scope of this table, so 13 times 9 = 117 and adding 1 to 1 to 7 the result is 9. Think of any number times nine and you will find the result will be the same - and I take 127 x 9, which equals 1143 (and as we know if we add 1 to 1 to 4 to 3 the result is 9). Brilliant! Furthermore if you find any number that adds up to nine it means it is divisible by 9, such as the number 15102.

Certainly not all people want to become mathematical masters, yet we can certainly appreciate the power and beauty of the subject.

A Game with Eight

I have to admit that one of the greatest challenges I had remembering these tables at school was with the eight times table - so it has been included here to demonstrate another number sequence, which will allow you to play a little with this number.

Ignoring the first row, the first real calculation is 1 x 8, which equals 8. What is cool about the eight times table is that the result of the next line will sum to 7, before reading on look at the table and try it for yourself, 2 times 8 is 16 and adding 1 to 6 equals 7, the result of the next calculation will be 6 and you can follow it through the whole series. Even when you look at 6 times 8 which equals 48 adding these digits together results in 12, which becomes 3 when added together; magic.

Eights are actually an important number set because some of the original computer calculations were performed in eights (octal), because it has a relationship to binary numbers, and is two cubed (e.g. 2 x 2 x 2)., and this has a relationship with hexadecimal (mathematical coding performed in 16's) being 8 times 2, and going on from that point most things computers raise in power from this point upwards, even including kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes.

The Haxagon of Nature

A six sided figure is called a hexagon and the great thing about hexagons is that not only are they mathematical but we find them everywhere in life, let us start with the humble bee and I have to thank my mother for this picture, which I just digitised, this honeycomb is from a bee colony, but go inside a natural bee hive and apparently the honeycomb is hexagonal in shape (and created perfectly every single time).

Humans are so impressed by this shape that we use it in all manner of places:

  • nuts and bolts
  • the shape of leather patterns on soccer balls
  • knitting patterns
  • pencils
  • castles
  • cobble stones
  • windows

Not surprising since outside the beehive the humble hexagon has natural origins as well:

  • snowflakes
  • rock formations
  • flowers (almost)

Indeed it has to be said that life is full of many spectacular looking objects that are hexagonal in shape and once you have read this you will not stop finding them wherever you go.

Cultural Importance of Numbers

In China certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious, apparently numbers 0, 6, 8, and 9 are believed to have auspicious meanings because their names sound similar to words that have positive meanings.

In Jewish faith the practice of spiritual interpretation of numbers is important for understanding sacred Scriptures and tapping the powers available, including 1,3,4,5, and 7.

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato called the study of number symbolism “the highest level of knowledge” also mathematician Pythagoras believed numbers had souls and magical powers and his followers believed the most sacred number to be 10.

Indian culture brought the world the smallest number of them all, the humble, yet important zero. and the Arabs gave us the numbering system that is in use all over the world today (other than in Saudi Arabia which has by some quirk adopted the Farsi numbers which were taken from Persia).

Apparently there are numerous references across the world to lucky number seven dating back to ancient times, originally there were seven "planets", the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter, there were seven ancient Egyptian and Roman gods, Hinduism recognises 7 chakras or energy centres in the human body, the Arabs had seven holy temples, in Japan there are seven lucky gods, and there were supposed to have been seven holy Buddhas, and there were numerous references in the old-testament, including the fall of Jericho and in particular since the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath is considered a holy day of rest. In the new testament there are also many sevens, including the seven seals, seven sacraments, as well as the seven deadly sins.

Almost universally seven is seen as a very auspicious number, yet in Chinese culture the number represents death - which perhaps needs to be juxtaposed with the luck for the gambler.


Seven's partner in luck is of course eleven.

Spiritually number eleven is thought of as a "master" number because it is the first double digit number that repeats the same number (1) that represents new beginnings and purity, so having eleven (11) doubles the the strength. Numerology reduces all multi-digit numbers to the single-digits they add up to 1 through 9 with the exception of the three Master numbers 11, 22 and 33 and to numerologists these represent something above and beyond the mundane, and in particular the number 11 has the most value because it is the first of these.

Numbers, Just numbers

Numbers; just numbers; that's all they are, and they could all be discussed and argued over for a month of Sundays. They might not all be accurate, at least when mere mortals perform the calculations, yet Its the magic of maths that allows us to tumble the numbers in a big drum and draw out any statistic we need to support any ideological position we may wish to take about any subject we care to discuss, so let's face it numbers rule the world.

Add a few thousand here, subtract a few thousand there; does it matter?

The accountant can make any company accounts say precisely what they need them to and they frequently do as a justification to close a factory in Bogotá or open one in the Transvaal. Business is all about the numbers but as long as there is money in the corporate bank account it seems those numbers can be fudged to read into them anything the board cares to. The same could also be said about governmental accounting.

Painting by Numbers

What does it matter what the number is? Seemingly not much; yet they are just numbers and these very numbers can be used to produce many different coloured shades through a computer program; the shade of the colour is dependent on the sequence represented.

It is the computer program that generates the individual pixels, each giving a different impact with a colour when building a fractal image which is where the colour ranges come in. Fractals in general, and the Mandelbrot sequence in particular (which is shown here), demonstrate how simple mathematical principles can generate an extremely complex, yet beautiful graphic, that can give joy to even a person having limited understanding of the calculations involved. Even more surprising is that these patterns replicate those that can be found in nature itself and the greater capacity we have to increase the density of the picture the more detail the program can provide.

Fractals represent a clear departure from the elementary-school type maths of straight lines, boxes and triangles; they are a visual representation of the way our complicated world is organized within the mathematical sphere and even represent how natural phenomena and everyday events can be linked with scientific principles. Even your most reluctant learners will love these fun pictures that reinforce essential computational skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, and patterns, etc.

The importance of numbers

The real fun in maths comes from mastery, but that mastery cannot happen without first mastering the fundamentals. Maths and computational capability are indelibly linked, yet not every computer programmer needs to be a mathematical genius; although it can certainly help because writing computer programs is about following logic, yet this logician loved to apply mathematical formulas.

The following are some of the more recent articles that I have published on a variety of topics, which is now approaching 500 articles on Wikinut.

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is great a place for you to share some of your wisdom, insight and knowledge, you could start by adding a comment, but perhaps you need something more in which case should join Wikinut, write then become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.


Appreciation Of Life, Calculations, Complicated Computations, Computational Capability, Computers, Eight, Enhance, Fractals, Hexagon, Joy, Magic, Mandelbrot Sequence, Math, Mathematics, Maths, Nine, Patterns, Seven

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

yes indeed Peter..numbers are profound...look at Pythagoras....thank you for this...

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

f math was introduced to kids like this I think more would be interested in it. I never knew about the 8's.

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author avatar Ptrikha
23rd Aug 2014 (#)

Yes 8 has a big significance in the scheme of Computation - The octals to Binary conversions and back.

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author avatar RBB1010
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

Numbers can be made fun to learn and like food to nourish us ..our energy and vitality each day ..numbers sustain our ability to perform essential tasks in everyday life, thanks..

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author avatar Retired
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

Fascinating piece ...

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author avatar Retired
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

I really enjoyed reading this article, Peter. You have presented a comprehensive perspective on numbers and their relationships with every aspect of nature and human life.

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author avatar Ptrikha
23rd Aug 2014 (#)

I have a fascination for number 6 since it is associated with cricket. So I can multiply 6 with say 43 or 55 pretty fast and come up with results.

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author avatar snerfu
25th Aug 2014 (#)

I can do the same with 0 and come up with answers very fast. It is also closely associated with my batting score in cricket. Maths fascinates and sometimes puts me to sleep, maybe that is why I like ti so much.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
25th Aug 2014 (#)

Ptrikha and Snerfu Of course 6 and 0 have much to do with cricket. I do hope there were not too many golden ducks though.

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author avatar Retired
26th Aug 2014 (#)

Wonderfull article, Thankx for giving the number no. 8 trick. And Thankx to your mother for the pic. It looks awesome.

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author avatar Erly
31st Aug 2014 (#)

Very impressive article,Indeed figures are what most people hate especially mathematics..calculus, geometry..and true, numbers help man's thinking to be ready for some risks in life in which the mind can resolve and find solutions...prior to number brainstorming..Thanks for the sharing of this.

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
26th Oct 2014 (#)

good post very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

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