What Scheherazade Did Not Know About the Number 1001

1001 nights of story telling saved Scheherazade’s life. Though the mathematical story of 1001 is not as interesting as Scheherazade’s stories, to those interested, it might just be entertaining enough. At the end of the story telling marathon, the sultan fell in love with Scheherazade as I hope you will fall in love with the admirable properties of 1001.

So what is special about the number 1001 you ask? It has sort of geometric symmetry and resembles a binary. If it were a binary, its decimal value would have been 9, right? But is that all we know about 1001?

Well, for starters, without being a prime number itself, it is the product of three prime numbers: 7, 11, and 13. Of interest is also that these three prime numbers are consecutive. So 1001 = 7 * 11 * 13.

But another important fact which increases its entertainment potential is the following property: When any three-digit number is multiplied by 1001, the result is the number written twice. Example: 621 * 1001 = 621621. And if you think of it, it makes sense if you break the multiplication this way: 621 * 1001 = 621 * 1000 + 621.

Knowing the prime factors of 1001 and the above property, we can create some fun experiences. For example, imagine you ask your friends to write a three-digit number. Then ask them to repeat the number for a total of six digits. Then have one friend divide the six-digit number by 7, another friend divide the result by 11, and yet another one divide the result by the first three-digit number. Let your friends know that all divisions will have no rest. And at the end, declare nonchalantly the result. Only you know that 13 is the last of the prime factors. Of course other variations of this exercise are possible as well. Ah, the power of knowledge! It makes one feel like a magician.

All you have left to do now is to show off at your next party. Dividing such big numbers with such an ease, should definitely be commendable. On a second thought, math is not for parties. Dance instead. Should be safer. Geeking it up is O.K. most of the time except when it is time to mingle. If anyone makes a killing selling t-shirts with the above sentence as its slogan, I would only take 10% of the profits. Wait, do people still dance at parties?