Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top Ten Reasons for Being Happy about Turning 61

Laura Erickson

1. I'm reaching my prime! 61 is not just any prime number, either--it's a prime twin with 59 (two prime numbers separated by just one number.) And it may be the largest prime that divides the product of the next two primes plus 1. If there is a larger such prime, it would have to be greater than 179,424,673.

2. As a geek who has been called "square," I especially appreciate the fact that 61 is the sum of two squares, 5x5 and 6x6. And because 5 and 6 are consecutive numbers, 61 is a centered square number. It's also a centered hexagonal number and a centered decagonal number.

3. 61 is a Keith number, because it recurs in a Fibonacci-like sequence started from its base 10 digits: 6, 1, 7, 8, 15, 23, 38, 61...

4. Highway 61 goes from Duluth to Grand Marais, Where the Boids Are. (Bob Dylan wrote some unrelated music about the same highway, which runs south from Duluth to Mississippi.)

5. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961.

6. Elgin Baylor set the record (still standing) for number of points set by an individual player in an NBA finals game. He scored 61 points in a game against the Celtics at the culmination of the 1961-62 season.

7. In '61, the Beatles first performed at the Cavern Club and first met Brian Epstein. At that point, I'd never heard of them.

8. First American in space: Alan Shepard, on the Mercury Redstone 3 in May, '61. Being almost 61 years old, I remember this.

9. West Side Story was released as a movie in '61. I was too young and had too little money to see it then, but have since made up for lost time.

10. I started fifth grade in '61, with the best teacher EVER. And while I'm 61, I get to spend a day with him when we go to Disney World in January!!

Fifth Grade with Mr. Borkowski

Additional reasons 61 is a cool number
  • The #61 bird on my life list was the Bank Swallow, a sociable and graceful little bird that sports a band across its chest like the slot of a piggy bank, which helped me remember it. I saw my first during a field ornithology class excursion on June 23, 1975.
Bank Swallow
  • Number 61 on the Periodic Table is a geeky little atom called Promethium, discovered at Oak Ridge, TN, in 1945 (before I was born), named after "Prometheus" in Greek mythology, who stole fire from the gods. It's an element only a geek would even be aware of. From the website I linked to, "It appears that there is no known Pm existing in the earth's crust other than in very small quantities in uranium ores where it is present as a uranium decay product."