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Science Book Club – Episode 18

Forty is the only number that spells out in alphabetical order.  

I’ve written a book on the numbers 1 to 100 and it’s actually two books in one.  Half of it is the mathematics of these numbers, aimed at smart, curious, early high school kids who want a bit more than what they do at school, and a real fun adventure to get your mind into.

The other half is just silly numerical trivia.  The ’40’ in WD-40?  Well, WD stands for Water Displacement.  They tried Water Displacement Formula 1, WD-2, WD-3…WD-40 was the one that finally clicked.  Bang!  40 also is the only number that spells out in alphabetical order.  F-O-R-T-Y.  As opposed to the number 4 which is the only number where the number of letters in the world, F-O-U-R, matches the number itself.  I could go on all day.

So we threw a random number at Adam.  88.

Well, in bingo terms it’s called two fat ladies, which I’ve never liked, but I will tell you, let’s see, what have we got…oh yeah, number of keys on a piano, of course.  But that doesn’t mean they’re split into 44 black and 44 white.  There’s more white keys than black keys.

What else can I tell you about the number 88?  Hmm.  Oh!  Gorgeous!  Remember the old Starsky and Hutch?  The TV show?  88 episodes of that, mate, woo!  As I say, Paul Glaser and David Soul blow dried their hair, raised their sunglasses and used a crowbar to get into their jeans 88 times in the 1970s.  And 88 is the atomic number of radium, discovered by Marie Curie, a woman who was so amazing she won not one, but two Nobel Prizes, in different disciplines.  Very nice number, 88. 

So, the reason I’m really excited about my Big Book of Numbers is I’ve actually self-published it.  I’ve just decided, what I want has gone into this.  It’s half maths, half other stuff that I just think’s weird and interesting and a lot of other people seem to as well.

It’s even got a quote here on the back from the lovely Brian Cox of this very channel.  ‘A brilliant introduction to the world of numbers.  Funny, yet with hidden depths. Like its author.’  [He kisses Brian’s quote.]  Thank you, Brian.

Because it’s self published, if people go on my website,, I’ll send it to them.  They might have to part with a little bit of money, but is where you order the Big Book of Numbers.

To head straight to buy the hardback book, including autographed copies, just click/tap this link.

e-Book version is also available here.