Sunday, May 25, 2008

Among the Many Things I Did Not Know: Why 88888 is So Interesting

Back in November, I posted about rolling 88,888 miles on my Prius. I thought it was just a way-station on my journey of obsessive nerdiness, but that post has had something of a life of its own.

The folks over at Delaware Liberal used it to start a "Guess Mike's Mileage" contest. That was cute. But I've also noticed a steady stream of hits on that post generated by Google Searches for "88888." The most recent, today, was by a web-surfer in Chahārmahāl o Bakhtiyārī, in Iran.

I've noticed that a number of the 88888 searchers are in that part of the world, so I finally got curious enough to follow-up and found two interesting facts about 88888 that may explain why that number is bringing readers.

First, the number 88,888 is a mathematical curiosity:
888888 is the only five-digit repunit such that the product of itself and all truncations of itself plus and minus one results in twin primes.
What? Don't ask me, I just work here. In any case, I've seen 88,888 referred to in several places as a lucky number. These two things are likely related.

More recently, 88888 is apparently the account number used by Nick Leeson for the speculative trades that led to the collapse of the UK investment bank Barings in the 1990s.

I just thought it was neat that my car's odometer had 8's straight across.

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