Why 153 is the Best Number

This newsletter is a follow-up to my April 28, 2022, newsletter, two weeks ago. That newsletter examined the claim made by Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory that 73 is the best number.

There can be little legitimate debate the two best numbers are e (Euler’s number) and π. However, let’s make this more challenging and limit ourselves to integers. Under that constraint, I submit for your consideration the best number is 153. Here is why.

  • 153 is a narcissistic number, meaning it equals the sum of the cubes of it’s digits: 153 = 1³ + 5³ + 3³. Only five other numbers have this property: 0, 1, 370, 371, and 407.
  • 153 is a triangular number. In particular, 153 = 1+2+3+…+17
  • 153 is the sum of the first five factorials: 153 = 1! + 2! + 3! + 4! + 5!.
  • The following algorithm will always return the result 153:
    1. Multiply any integer by 3.
    2. Split that number into it’s component digits.
    3. Take the sum of the cube of each digit
    4. Go back to step 2.

Following that, you will eventually get to 153 and then stay there.

For example, let’s take the current year 2022. Multiply that by 3 and you get 6066. Take the sum of the cubes of each digit and you get 6³ + 0³ + 6³ + 6³ = 432.

Take the sum of cube of each digit in 432 and you get 4³ + 3³ + 2³ = 99.

Take the sum of cube of each digit in 99 and you get 9³ + 9³ = 1458.

Take the sum of cube of each digit in 1458 and you get 1³ +4³ + 5³ + 8³ = 702 (the area code for Las Vegas).

Take the sum of cube of each digit in 702 and you get 7³ + 0³ + 2³ = 351.

Take the sum of cube of each digit in 351 and you get 3³ + 5³ + 1³ = 153.

Image source: Wikipedia

Another curious thing about the number 153 is that is the number of fish the disciples of Jesus caught in the story of the second miraculous catch of fish. Yes, such a trivial detail was specifically mentioned in the bible.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” -- John 21: 10-11

I’ve always found it very interesting that the disciples actually counted the fish and the total was remembered and recorded in the book of John decades later. Either that, or somebody who was also enamored with the number 153 had a hand in the writing of the bible and slipped it in there as a math joke to people like me.

Miraculous catch of fish
Image source: Wikipedia

That is your math and bible less for the day. Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor.