Daily Archives: November 10, 2007

the doctor Explains the Whole Numbers

I would say that you approach them
  with caution
You should not let them overwhelm you with cheer
Pays to know what you’ll find
To understand their kind
  ’round here

Drawing their grooves
They look so radical
Tracing their curves
I wanna get a bit fractal
Something deep down reveals they’re magical

How can I get enough

They’re all strange numerals
That’s what I know
But they’re strange numerals
We’ve got to follow

Since Steve Martin explained the alphabet, I thought I’d take a whirl at explaining the whole numbers. As a trained mathematician, it’s something I should be able to do. So here goes.

Zero is Zany, Zippy, and Zagging
Perfectly Round, nothing is dragging
Utterly unique, and matter of fact
It says you have nothing – and does it with tact

One is onerous, oneiric, and alone
Just a straight line, it’s bare-to-the-bone
Instantly recognizable, it’s universally known
From the pauper on the street to the prince in the throne

Two can be terrific if you like a surprise
Or two can be terrible if you’ve tied for first prize
And even two can be terrifying if we’re talking elephants on the drunk
But two can become one, as happens at the pulmonary trunk

Three is chaos – it is the unknown
It’s the three-body problem that makes physicists groan
And the three-toed sloth is about as slow as it gets
At least it’s the right number for pirouettes

Four on the floor was a grand old show
To make you laugh, to great lengths they would go
Brother of Ted, Mr. Canoehead had a canoe welded to his head
But how The Frantics produced that pie, it filled me with dread!

Drink Five-alive, feel Five-by-Five
In a five-star on the seventy-five
Just don’t five-finger a five-penny or you just might
find yourself behind five-bars for the night

Six is silly when found on its own
But add two more, and it’s a whole different tone
The Christians get fearful, they fill up with dread
They start talking of the beast, and how you should cut off its head

They say seven is lucky, but why I don’t know
I’d ask for advice, but to whom should I go
Seven sisters, seven deities, the seven minds?
Maybe I’ll just go the craps tables and sees what I finds

Eight is Enough said ABC
But to the samurai, eight codes brought harmony
The numeral eight has symmetry of the horizontal and vertical kind
Just don’t flip it on it’s side, or it’ll blow your mind!

Nine is fine, unless we’re talking Cat o’ nine tails
‘Cause when that thing flails, all you here is wails
And with the number nine, our lesson ends
I hope your knowledge now transcends