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1. One
It doesnt get better than Number One. Its the average number of poos a sloth has in a week. Its the number of websites there were in 1991 (today there are about 850 million). Its the number of people who live in the town of Monowi, Nebraska. Its the number of seconds it takes the MIT Media Lab camera to take 1 trillion pictures (it can photograph the speed of light).
2. Zero
Apparently the Greeks and the Romans never used zero.How is this possible?Invented by the ancient Babylonians, it is without question the greatest number in the world. Its the number of species of bats who are actually blind (out of 1200 species). It was Henry VI age when he became King of England (he was nine months old). Also when he became King of France (he was eleven months old). Its the total number of snakes in Ireland (except pets). Its the average number of times per second that an albatross flaps its wings (it can spend up to six days just gliding on air currents).
3. Three
Three is seen as a creepy number in some cultures. In Vietnam, its apparently bad luck to have three people in a photo as the one in the middle might die. Oh well C I like it. Its the number of people who have been to the very bottom of the ocean (the Mariana Trench). Compare that to the 534 people who have been in space. Its (on average) the number of days you can survive without water, the number of weeks you can survive without eating and the number of minutes you can survive without taking a breath.
4. Four
Four percent of people in the world have outtie belly buttons. And do you know how old Dorothy Straight was when she published her first book (How the World Began)? Thats right, four. Its the number of people who live in each square kilometre in Canada (in the UK its 265 people, in Hong Kong its 7,000). Its the number of miles per second - PER SECOND! - that space junk goes as it whizzes around Earth (thats why a tiny speck of it can destroy a space ship).
5. Five
Five is great. Its the number of babies born every second. Here come another five. And another. Its the length in metres of a Great White Shark. Its also the average number of people who die from shark attacks every year (compared to the 100 million sharks a year killed by humans). Its the number of mass extinctions that the Earth has experienced (number five killed off the dinosaurs). The worlds largest hula hoop was five metres wide (Ashrita Furman managed to spin it 306 times).
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6. Seven
Ah, Number Seven. Its seen as lucky or mystical in some cultures. It crops up all the time. Seven days of the week. Seven Deadly Sins. Seven Dwarves too. Its also the number of TVs Michel Lotito ate in the course of his life (plus 18 bicycles, 15 shopping trolleys and 1 Cessna light aircraft). Its the estimated number of Northern white rhinos there are left in the world. Its the number of teaspoons of botulinum you would need to kill every person on the planet (Botulinum is the worlds deadliest poison. Some people inject a watered-down version of it botox into their foreheads to kill their wrinkles. Dont try this at home).
7. Ten
Human children need around 10 hours of sleep a night (you need two hours if you were a giraffe and twenty-two hours if you were a koala). 10 per cent of the world is left-handed. The worlds largest omelette was 10 metres wide. 10 per cent of people in the world live on islands. The fleas that lived on dinosaurs were 10 times bigger than the fleas you get today (not youpersonally- at least I hope not).
8. 1,000,000
These days, when we have trillions, quadrillions and septillions, a good old-fashioned million can seem a bit puny. But its still a big deal if you like weird facts. For example, a bloodhounds sense of smell is said to be one million times stronger than ours (and given that we can detect one trillion different smells, thats not to be sniffed at). One million years ago, the first human-type creature (or hominid) arrived in the UK according to these footprints on a Norfolk beach. Its the number of queen ants that were found in the largest ever ants nest (the supercolony also had 306 million worker ants and was the size of 650 football pitches).
9. 1,000,000,000
In the UK, a billion used to be a million million (1,000,000,000,000). But the US decided a billion should be a thousand million (1,000,000,000). And theyre bigger than us, so they won. So a billion. Its the number of people there were in the whole world in the year 1800 (there are seven billion now). Its the number of bacteria cells you find in a single teaspoon of soil (most of them are harmless though). And is $1 billion a lot of money? Not if youre criminal Pablo Escobar. Rats ate $1 billion of his money every year and he didnt even notice.
10. 557
557 people in England and Wales speak Cornish as a first language. This is more than the 100 competent speakers of Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) but fewer than the 1,700 speakers of Jerriais (spoken in Jersey). Duw genes! (Thats Bye for now in Cornish).
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