Well, it’s Tuesday, the 27th of December (in 2022 AD or CE) and I’m writing this on my phone because I didn’t feel like carrying my laptop yesterday. I have to say, now that I’m not writing fiction anymore, I find the portable laptop more and more just useless and even irritating. It was handy on Friday night, when I was at the hotel‒“free” Wifi that comes with the room and all that‒but that sort of thing is unlikely to happen very often. In any case, I brought it with me on Friday specifically with that thought in mind. But for other purposes, it’s just mostly an unnecessary and often unpleasant burden, rather like its owner (me).
I think it’s interesting that, come 2023, I will be (indeed, I already am) 53, a prime number, in a year for which the last 2 digits (23) are a prime. 2023 is not a prime, though it looks like it might be at first glance. But it has prime factors 7 and 17 apparently; a nice pair, but the number they produce (by multiplying 7 x 17 x 17) is by definition not prime. Still, that’s not many prime factors, and again, they’re particularly pleasing primes, though 7 and 13 would have been more fun. But 7 x 13 x 13 would be 1183, I think…yes, that’s right. I just went and checked my mental arithmetic and it was correct. Phew, that would have been embarrassing to make that sort of mistake in front of all my readers.
So, anyway, 1183 is nice, but it’s 840 years ago next year. So I’m a little late for that one, I’m afraid. It’s 839 years ago this year, and 839 is a prime number, but neither 2022 nor 22 are prime, so what’s the point in that? I wouldn’t even have looked at the number if not for my previous digression.
All that stuff is beside the point I intended to make. The point is, my age is a prime, and the last 2 digits of the year will be prime, so if I die before my next birthday (but on or after New Year’s Day, of course), I will, in a sense, die “in my prime”. It’s slightly forced, but as Michael Palin said in the role of a pet shop owner, “It’s as near as dammit”. He was trying to pass off a terrier as a cat for the customer, who said it wasn’t a “proper cat”.
Anyway, that’s all slightly encouraging about next year’s prospects for me. It’s about all I have to look forward to (or, rather, “all I have to which to look forward”), so I have to take what I can get, even if it involves squeezing a bit of the potential prime number relationships.
When you think about it, the numbers for the years are more or less entirely arbitrary, and even Darth Ratzinger* has admitted that the historical Jesus (assuming he actually lived) was born in about 6 BC, according to our current date system. Which is kind of funny, when you think about it‒Jesus was born six years before Christ. But then, we know he wasn’t born on Christmas, either, as I’ve mentioned before. Hey, it was 2000 or so years ago, how accurate do you want people to have been**?
The next subsequent chance I would possibly have to die “in my prime” would not be until 2029, when I’m 59! Although, 2029 is actually a prime number, and so is 29. So that’s a bit tempting. But I don’t even really want to imagine waiting six more years!! And what if I died by accident some year in between? What a waste that would be.
All of this is silliness, of course. I like the idea because it’s playing with prime numbers and playing with words at the same time, and they are both things that I like to do. But I’m not in any way committed to any numerological notions in any magical thinking sense. If I were, then the 2029, 59 thing would be much more convincing, particularly since 2029 is the year the asteroid Apophis‒named for an ancient Egyptian god of chaos and destruction‒will come within 19,000 kilometers of Earth on April 13th. That will be a Friday the 13th, by the way! And if the asteroid passes through a very tiny gravitational “keyhole” (extremely unlikely) it will have its orbit altered such that seven years later it will hit the Earth***. If I were dogmatic, committed to some quasi-mystical notion of prime numbers and the magical powers of some words, that would all be quite convincing.
But I don’t believe in any mystical or magical things, and I don’t think I’m wrong not to want to believe in them. I’m well acquainted with metaphorical notions of magic (and fictional ones, of course) and am well acquainted with awe and with the numinous and with the state of being moved profoundly by wondrous things, from the contemplation of the scope of space and time on up to the births of my children. But these don’t require belief, in the sense of conviction without justifiable evidence and reason. Faith of that kind is a bug, not a feature, of the minds in which it resides.
So, no, I’m not convinced by the prime number/prime of one’s life coincidence. I’m just very tired, and have nothing of real, deep value in my life, nor am I myself of any real, deep value. But I enjoy prime numbers and word games, so it would at least be mildly amusing and satisfying‒or so I imagine‒to die in a year in which my age is prime and so are the last 2 digits of the year. There’s nothing deeper to it than that.
There probably is nothing deeper than that, come to think of it.
*That’s the Sith name of Pope Emeritus Benedict. Is he even still alive? Also, why does “Sith” get the red squiggly underline of an unrecognized word, but “Jedi” doesn’t? It’s blatant bigotry and hypocrisy by the Jedi, as should come as no surprise to anyone. Well, I’ve added Sith to my local dictionary, at least.
**Of course, presumably God could have ensured precision and accuracy, but probably an omniscient, omnipotent, infinite being would not think our arbitrary dating systems‒or indeed, we ourselves‒were important in any way whatsoever.
***Of course, there’s plenty of time before then for someone who has, for instance, a private space program to send up a rocket that will gently nudge the asteroid, just a little bit, so that it hits the Earth in 2029…or in 2036, if that’s easier to pull off. It wouldn’t need to be anything as dramatic as NASA’s recent asteroid deflection test thing, but it would require careful simulation and then application of force on a local scale. Are you listening, Elon? It wouldn’t be a mass extinction event, nor even a civilization-ending event, but it would be a global catastrophe such as hasn’t been seen since civilization began. It might shake humans out of their idiotic Woke vs. MAGA type tribal bickering and make them take seriously the fact that they need to spread out off this planet, to colonize the moon and Mars and so on. Or…was that actually the purpose of the rocket you sent toward Mars with a Tesla in it? Is that camouflage for a mission to nudge Apophis to make it hit the Earth? That’s it, isn’t it? Oh, I knew you were an evil genius after my own heart!****
****Speaking of evil geniuses, I’ve seen recent videos that show, for instance, what the Death Star’s weapon would look like if it were accurate to real lasers, or showing how impractical it would be to use such a powerful laser, and regarding the apparent rebound energy if one fired a laser powerful enough to destroy a planet. But the Death Star weapon is no more a laser than are blasters or lightsabers (though lasers may be involved in the workings of the devices). Blasters and lightsabers are packeted plasma weapons of some kind, with the plasma perhaps constrained in highly shaped electromagnetic fields. And the Death Star weapon is similar but of a different fundamental type. I suspect it to be a highly energetic and dense plasma, but composed of anti-matter, and when the plasma strikes the planet at relativistic speeds, the matter/antimatter annihilation is what provides the incredible destructive force. Or perhaps, alternatively, it is some form of plasma of W and Z particles, which cause massive, rapid nuclear decay in the atoms of the planets they strike, causing hitherto unprecedented fission events on a planetary scale. It might even be a quark-gluon plasma, but generating that on such a scale seems boggling even to my jaded science fantasy mind. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, it’s just a pet peeve.
*****It can come from the 7th rib, though, and I guess you could request that specially.
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