Funbers! Fun facts about numbers that you didn’t realise you’ve secretly always wanted to know…

By on 25/04/2018

New from the Naked Mathematician, Tom Crawford, is the Funbers series in partnership with the BBC. Each 3-minute episode looks at a number more closely than anyone ever really should, to tell you the fun facts that you didn’t realise you’ve secretly always wanted to know… Beginning with 0, the series has now reached the number 8 via the Golden Ratio, Feigenbaum’s Constant and Tom’s favourite number, e. You can listen to all of the episodes at or tune in every Monday to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire at 4:40pm to listen live! Below are a few snippets to peak your interest…

Pythagoras’ Constant 1.4142…

A number so ‘bad-ass’, legend has it the man responsible for it’s discovery, Hippasus, was drowned for his sins. Yes, that is correct – some poor guy had rocks tied to his feet and was overboard into the ocean because he did some clever maths. Hippasus’ discovery that the square root of 2 could not be written as a fraction went against Pythagorean beliefs that the universe was based around whole numbers, ultimately leading to his demise… Listen below to hear the full story.

e 2.718…

Euler’s constant, otherwise known as my favourite number. I know that I shouldn’t be biased, but when you have the first 100 digits of a number tattooed onto your arm the game changes. e represents the natural rate of growth of a function and is particularly important when it comes to finances and working out the best way to invest your money… Listen below to find out why.

mandelbrot set

Mandelbrot set fractal

Feigenbaum’s Constant 4.67…

Maths enters into the world of chaos with Feigenbaum’s Constant. Mathematically, it’s seen as the quickest route to obtain complete and utter unpredictability and surprisingly was only discovered 40 years ago. It opened up the can of worms that we now call ‘Chaos Theory’ and appears in fields as varied as population dynamics and fractals. A fractal is a repeating pattern that continues to look the same despite zooming in closer and closer indefinitely. One of my favourite examples is the Mandelbrot set shown in the image above. The best part is that the rate at which the image zooms in is equal to Feigenbaum’s Constant… Learn more about the incredible world of chaos by listening below.

The Funbers series will be continuing throughout the year so be sure to look out for the latest episodes on For the latest updates you can also follow Tom on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube @tomrocksmaths

About Tom Crawford

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