The World's Most Common Random Number

The World's Most Common Random Number

This circuitry on the MIPS R4000 microprocessor contains not only an image of Nikki, Larry Johnson's Chow dog, but also the number 37. We are told that MIPS chip designer Mark Johnson, who claims it is the World's most common random number, is responsible for scribbling this number onto the mask. A number of visitors have responded to us about the concept of 37 being the most random number. Here are some of their theories:

  • 37 degrees is the normal temperature of the human body on the Celsius scale.

  • The Buddhist book "37 Bodhisattva Practices" outlines the steps for an aspiring bodhisattva.

  • A number of interesting topics are raised in Tom Magliery's 37 Factoids Page.

  • One of the "tricks" of some magicians is to ask the audience to pick a number between 1 and 100, and then ask people who picked the number 37 to raise their hands. This supposedly results in a disproportionate number of people with raised hands.

  • Exploited in carnivals, the fact that given a choice of any number between 1 and 10, people will most often choose 3 or 7.

  • Humans are lousy random-number generators and an unusually large number of them will pick 37 while a smaller, but still lopsided number of people will pick 73.

Although we are not sure of the accuracy of these theories, it does seem that quite a few people (in addition to Mark Johnson) believe that 37 is the World's most common random number.


© 1995-2013 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, software, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Wednesday, Mar 03, 2004 at 04:30 PM
Access Count Since December 25, 1998: 59663