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What's the world's favourite number?


First of all, what's yours? Can you picture a number? Do you love the way it looks - the font gently curling around or does it evoke a sentiment or memory in your mind?

It may seem trivial but everyone has one. And now an extensive survey has found the number that is most commonly loved across the world.

And it has revealed that the world's favourite number is seven.

According to the online survey which received 44,000 entries, set up by the Guardian's maths blogger and author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland, Alex Bellos, the number seven came out on top, beating three which was second most popular and number eight which came third.

Those who took the poll, found out about it online and voluntarily decided to take part in it. They were asked to nominate their favourite number and explain why they feel that way.

A 15th Century engraving of the seven sins

One 35-year-old woman from the United Stated said, "Seven is the number of stellar objects in the solar system. Seven is the number of chakras. Seven is Sunday! Seven is the calling code for Russia. Seven just feels magical!"

Another woman of the same age from the UK wrote that number seven is "a number that is growing up. It’s a bit awkward; it can’t be equally divided and won’t bend to the rules so easily!"

And one 16-year-old, from New Zealand wrote, "People, don’t usually tend to pick 7, and I like to be different".

Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

"I conducted this experiment because I am fascinated by the emotional responses many of us have to numbers," said Bellos on Favourite Number.Net, the website where the survey took place.

"As a maths communicator, I am always asked for my favourite number. Whenever I give talks – in schools, universities, festivals and corporate events – it's guaranteed this question will come up," wrote Bellos on his Guardian blog.

"At first I thought this favourite number interrogation was frivolous, a way of poking fun at me (or maths). But gradually I learned that many people have genuinely strong feelings about numbers, and this realisation prompted me to launch the survey."

David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo have both worn the number seven football shirt

He added, "The results do not have the rigour of a professional opinion poll or a laboratory experiment. Yet even so it is revealing about our number choices."

Here are the top ten numbers with the highest votes:

  1. 7
  2. 3
  3. 8
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 13
  7. 9
  8. 6
  9. 2
  10. 11

Every number between 1 and 100 was chosen and 472 numbers between 1 and 1000 were chosen. The lowest number to receive no votes was 110.

Bellos wrote, "The humiliation of 110 is an example of the most striking pattern in the data, which is that round numbers are rarely chosen as favourite numbers. Numbers ending in 0 are particularly unloved, as are numbers ending in 5 (with the exception of 5 itself)."

(Words: Sejal Kapadia, Images: Rex Features)



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