The authors conducted an exhaustive empirical study, with the aid of
custom software, public search engines and powerful statistical
techniques, in order to determine the relative popularity of every integer
between 0 and one million. The resulting information exhibits an
extraordinary variety of patterns which reflect and refract our culture,
our minds, and our bodies.
For example, certain numbers, such as
212, 486, 911, 1040, 1492, 1776, 68040, or 90210, occur more frequently
than their neighbors because they are used to denominate the phone
numbers, tax forms, computer chips, famous dates, or television programs
that figure prominently in our culture. Regular periodicities in the data,
located at multiples and powers of ten, mirror our cognitive preference
for round numbers in our biologically-driven base-10 numbering system.
Certain numbers, such as 12345 or 8888, appear to be more popular simply
because they are easier to remember.
Humanity’s fascination with
numbers is ancient and complex. Our present relationship with numbers
reveals both a highly developed tool and a highly developed user, working
together to measure, create, and predict both ourselves and the world
around us. But like every symbiotic couple, the tool we would like to
believe is separate from us (and thus objective) is actually an intricate
reflection of our thoughts, interests, and capabilities. One intriguing
result of this symbiosis is that the numeric system we use to describe
patterns, is actually used in a patterned fashion to describe.
We surmise that our dataset is a numeric snaphot of the collective
consciousness. Herein we return our analyses to the public in the form of
an interactive visualization, whose aim is to provoke awareness of one's
own numeric manifestations.