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70 Is the New Confusion

Someone I know well has reached the exalted age of 70. I wondered what this number might mean. So, I looked it up on the Internet, the ultimate source for all kinds of useful information. This is what I found.

  • 70 (seventy) is the natural number following 69 and preceding 71.

 That didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

In mathematics, 70 is:

  • a sphenic number because it factors as 3 distinct primes
  • a Pell number
  • the seventh pentagonal number
  • the fourth triskaidecagonal number
  • the fifth pentatope number
  • a central binomial coefficient (since 70 is the number of ways to choose 4 objects out of 8 if order does not matter)
  • the smallest weird number (a natural number that is abundant but not semiperfect)
  • a palindromic number
  • a Harshad number
  • an Erdős–Woods number (since it is possible to find sequences of 70 consecutive integers such that each inner member shares a factor with either the first or the last member)
  • 70 squared is the sum of the first 24 squares starting from 1 (which relates to the Leech lattice and thus string theory)

I didn’t understand any of that. I hate math.

  • In science, 70 is the atomic number of ytterbium, a lanthanide
  • In astronomy, Messier object M70 is a magnitude 9.0 globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius.

 I didn’t understand any of that either. I hate science.

  • In history, the 70 Years War lasted from 1572 to 1642.

That is a long time, but I don’t see its relevance. And I thought I liked history.

In the Bible:

  • 70 Hebrews went down to Egypt to begin the exile (Genesis 46:27).
  • There are names representing 70 nations in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10).
  • There were 70 men in the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of ancient Israel.
  • Moses assembled 70 elders by God’s command in the desert (Numbers 11:16-30).
  • Psalm 90:10 allots three score and ten (70) years for a man’s life, and the Mishnah says that one who survives that age is “strong.”
  • 70 Jewish elders translated the Old Testament into Greek.
  • In Luke 10:1-24, Jesus sent 70 of His followers out to preach.
  • In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus told Peter to forgive people 70 times 7 times.

That might be relevant, especially the last one.

  • Several languages do not have a specific word for 70; for example, French uses “soixante-dix” (sixty-ten) and Danish says “halvfjerdsindstyve” (three and a half score).
  • In law, some copyrights expire after 70 years.

In sports:

  • In Olympic archery, the targets are 70 meters from the archers.
  • There are 70 laps in the Canadian Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix.
  • In Far Eastern cultures such as of China, Japan, and Korea, 70 years old is called “the Rare Age of the Olden Times.”

The East truly is inscrutable. I don’t know if that is insulting or not.

  • In Islamic tradition, 70 is hyperbole for “an infinite amount.”

That is definitely insulting. And mean.


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