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ON CLOUD NINE: THE MOTHER OF ALL NUMBERS
Neuf εννέα Neun 九 Nueve девять Nio नौ Nove নয় Tisa
Behold the mystery of 9, the largest single-digit number. It has unique properties. Let us begin.
If you multiply 9 by 1, you of course get 9. But if you multiply 9 by 2 you get 18, whose digits (1 and 8) also add up to 9.
Multiplying 9 x 3 gives you 27, and 2 +7 = 9.
9 x 4 = 36, and we see 3 + 6 = 9. And 9 x 44 is 396, and 3 + 9 + 6 = 18 and then 1 + 8 = 9. And so on.
Choose any number, no matter how big, and multiply it by 9. Its constituent digits will always reduce to 9.
For example: 867,412,155 multiplied by 9 is 7,806,709, 395.
7 + 8 + 0 + 6 + 7 + 0 + 9 + 3 + 9 + 5 = 54, and 5 + 4 = 9.
But we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Add up all the digits from 1 to 9 and they come to 45. Needless to say, 4 + 5 =9.
Then there’s this:
If you line up all the single-digit numbers (1 to 9) and multiply them by 9, you wind up with 123,456,789 x 9 = 1,111,111,101. That number’s digits add up to 9.
If you line up 123,456,789 and multiply that number by 18 (whose digits add up to 9) you get 2,222,222,202. All those 2’s add add up to 18 which reduces to 9. If you take that same line-up from 1 to 9 and multiply the result by 45 (whose digits also add up to 9) you end up with 5,555,555,505. And all those 5’s add up to 45, which reduces to 9.
And so on.
You can also take any number whose digits add up to 9 and then subtract 9. Let’s say the original number is 441 (4 + 4 + 1 = 9). Now watch this:
441 – 9 = 432. Then 4 + 3 + 2 = 9.
Here’s a neat observation:
Take any 2-digit number, let’s say 64, and divide it by the 2-digit number 99 and see what happens.
64 ÷ 99 is 0.6464646464. Notice how the two-digits on either side (64/99) result in a repeating decimal which also consists of two digits?
The same would work for any 7-digit number divided by the 7-digit number 9,999,999. Let’s say 8,865,931 ÷ 9,999,999. The result is 0.88659318865931…(a 7-digit repeating decimal).
Let’s dig deeper.
The internet tells us Chuck Norris can count to infinity (∞). (They say he can do that twice, in fact). For our purposes the irrational number pi (3.141592653….. ), which stretches to ∞, will suffice. If we use a shortened (non-infinite) version of pi and multiply it by 9:
Pi x 9 = 28.274333877.
Add up all those digits from 28 to 77 and the answer is 54. And of course 5 + 4 =9.
Even if we use a much shorter version of pi, we still can’t escape the pattern. 3.1416 x 9 = 28.2744, whose digits add up to 27, which reduces to you-know-what.
Hindu mystics think the world of 9. So do Buddhists. Their prayer beads (similar to Catholic rosary beads) contain 108 beads. At New Year Japanese Buddhists toll the bell 108 times. And Buddha had 9 virtues.
Indian astrology has 9 influencers (called navagraha): the sun, moon and planets.
Indian mysticism holds that there are 9 elements: earth, water, air, fire, ether, time, space, soul and mind.
9 also looms large in Chinese and Sinitic culture. The word for 9 (jiu) sounds like the word for long-lasting (something akin to immortality, perhaps). And in Chinese tradition the dragon, which represents power and magic, has 9 forms, 9 attributes and 9 children. It has 117 scales, of which 81 are yang (masculine) and 36 are yin (feminine).
The ancient Greeks had 9 Muses (goddesses of creativity). Christian tradition holds there are 9 choirs of angels in heaven. The Vikings of old divided the cosmos into 9 worlds. Both the Aztec and Maya underworlds consisted of 9 levels, as did the Christian hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to after sunset, is the 9th month. The list goes on and on.
In more modern times 9 has held special significance. Westeros, in The Game of Thrones has 9 regions. The U.S. Supreme Court has 9 justices. A baseball game has 9 innings and 9 players take the field for the pitching team. 9 strikes is enough to retire the side. Beethoven, Bruckner, Dvorák and Mahler all died after composing their 9th Symphonies.
The NATO radio alphabet makes 9 the only number to be pronounced in an irregular way – niner – to differentiate it from the similar sounding five.
Some countries AM radio stations’ frequencies are assigned by making sure the kHz add up to 9, for example 1530 kHz. This is to space them out more effectively and prevent them interfering with other stations’ signals.
The worst movie ever made – believe it or not even worse than The Room – was Plan 9 From Outer Space, directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Not Plan 8 or Plan 10, you’ll notice. And – I know this is a stretch – it was made in 1959.
And our mothers carried us around as ever-growing internal residents for about 9 months.
So remember to show 9 a little respect.