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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Meaning of numbers (20): inversion

Thirteen 13 is an unlucky number in Western culture. Rumour has it that it is due to the biblical tradition that it was the number of attendees at Christ’s Last Supper, which led to its supertitiously dark connotations in the West and beyond. Indeed most people I have encountered in the West try to avoid the number thirteen 13 as much as possible, as do I. If we flip it, however, we get thirty-one 31, which, at first glance, does not seem to have anything obviously good or bad about it. However, the fact that it is derived from thirteen 13 by inversion, it may be considered the inverse of this bad number thirteen 13 and hence a positive number. Also, the difference between thirteen 13 and thirty-one 31 is eighteen 18, which is a highly propitious number in Chinese. It is a well-established numerical trend that the difference between two numbers by numerical inversion is the product of the difference between the two digits and nine 9, which, in this case, consists of (3-1)*9=18. Thirty-one 31, therefore, a somewhat ordinary and random number by most accounts, may have something decidedly good and exciting about it, which is not a bad way to start the week. I have mentioned addition and subtraction as being significant numerical functions, and here we can count inversion as significant too. The numbers beckon.

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