Many Pies

Many Pies

Friday, July 12, 2013

I bought a number!

I've gone and bought a number - 51682953. Of course there are many versions of this number, such as the BW521255 Yutaka Satou unpublished cDNA library (csga) Ciona savignyi cDNA clone csga063d12 5-, mRNA sequence which has that number as its GenBank gi, and the Salsa Red Pearl / Taupe 2007 Toyota Sienna LE Photo #1 which has that number as the filename for the page. However, mine is a Brooklyn Integer, so it's an artisan-made 51682953.

If I haven't lost you completely by now you should go and read the Rev Dan Catt's explanation of artisan integers. Go ahead, I can wait.

I bought mine from Kellan's Etsy shop and there are a few more available as I type. My number has it's own web page at the foundry's site: You might have thought that a number that's over 51 million like that wouldn't turn up much in the real world. However (although I don't like it when lazy journalists begin an article on X by telling you how many results you get if you put X in a search engine, I'm going to do it because it's relevant, not because I'm lazy) if I put my number into Google I get 1480 results. So it's not as rare as you might think. Why is this? It's because the databases that underpin these webpages need unique numbers to work, such as this picture on Flickr which has my number in its URL.

After a while you get up to 51 million of the things. (Uniquely numbering things predate databases of course, paper invoices have been numbered for years.) For example, the order number for my number is 94650581, so Etsy is nearly up to 100 million orders, assuming they started at one.

So far I've been saying just how not particularly unique my number is, or rather, other versions of the number. What makes my number unique though is that my number will never ever be issued to someone else by the Brooklyn Integer foundry. You can get numbers from other places, such as this online UUID generator, however you'd get more of an Ikea number, than my bespoke number.

Can you see why I'm excited about getting this number?


  • It's nearly two years in seconds.
  • It has three prime factors: 3×7×2461093
  • In hex it's 0x3149E89.

Tangential links and background reading

Bitcoin mining
PayPal galactic
The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers (which doesn't feature my number).
The original tweet that started this off:

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