## Tuesday, April 26, 2011

### Numbers with special meaning

Normally numbers represent a value, but in some cases they have additional, extra meaning. We don't normally teach these extra meanings in our elementary math curriculum. You learn them along the way, in real life - just as you do not learn slang in class, but on the playground.

The term slang means informal words and expressions with non-standard meanings. I hereby propose that today we look at a few examples of number slang.

For example ten hundreds plus four tens equals 1040. Kids learn that in math class. But 1040 also has a special meaning in the United States - it causes a leap in the pulse rate, clenching of teeth, forming of fists, etc. - It's the number given to the tax form we fill out each year.

This first grouping contains numbers with financial implications:
• 1040 - annual tax form used by Americans to declare their tax liability to the IRS.
• 1099 - a form used to declare that a person or company has paid taxable money to someone else .
• 401(k) - section of the tax code describing a self-directed retirement plan.
• 501(c)(3) - set of rules governing non-profit organizations which are tax-exempt due to their focus on religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, public safety, amateur sports, or prevention of cruelty to animals and children.
• 10K and 10Q - forms and reports describing the activities of publicly owned companies.
Here are a few more well-known financial numbers:
• Chapter 7 - not parts of a large book, but a group of rules governing the liquidation of a company that can't pay its debts.
• Chapter 9, 11, 12 & 13 - the set of rules governing bankruptcy procedures for municipalities (9), companies (11), farmers and fishermen (12) and individuals (13) which enable them to reorganize and repay their debts.
Some NON-financial numbers
• 18 or 21 - the legal public drinking age (varies from place to place).
• 42 - the answer to all questions in life, calculated by a computer called Deep Thought.
• 666 - the sign of the beast described in the Bible book of Revelation 13:17–18.
• 411 - in the USA, the number you dial for information or directory services.
• 911 - in the USA, the telephone number for emergency services.
• 999 - the emergency phone number in many countries.
• 0118 999 881 999 119 7253 - fictitious emergency number revealed on an IT Crowd TV episode.
• 362436 - a numerical representation of a woman's "ideal hourglass figure".
• 867-5309 - the telephone number of a girl named Jenny on a 1982 Tommy Tutone album.
• 555-12-3456 - typical 9-digit social security number used to identify American taxpayers.
• 120/80 - the top number for nominal blood pressure for an adult.
• 20/20 - normal quality vision; a number representing "visual acuity".