The 23 Enigma
, as it is sometimes called, describes the bizarre
way the number 23
seems to crop up in the most unusual
places. It is closely related to the Discordian Law of Fives
(stating that everything is connected, in one way or another, to the number 5
), since 2+3=5.
It was originally discovered by writer William S. Burroughs
, who, while visiting Tangiers
, met a Captain Clark
who piloted a ferry
to Spain. He told Burroughs that he had been pilot
ing the same route for 23
years without ever having an accident
. That same day, Clark's ferry sank, and that evening, while Burroughs was thinking about the accident
, he heard a radio report about the crash
of Flight 23
from New York to Miami. The pilot of the plane was also named Captain Clark
... After that incident, Burroughs began keeping a scrapbook
, detailing the odd synchronicity
that seemed to surround the number 23
. Two of the most prominent
chroniclers of the 23 phenomenon
, Robert Shea
and Robert Anton Wilson
, used some incidents from Burroughs' scrapbook and hunted down others to include in their epic "Illuminatus! Trilogy
", which is probably where most people have heard of this odd little branch of numerology
You have doubt
s? Come with me and let's walk...
- According to 17th century biblical scholar Bishop Usher's studies of the
Old Testament, the Earth was created on October 23, 4004 BC. On
the other hand, the Mayans believed the world would end on exactly December
- New York gangster Dutch Shultz put out a contract on 23-year-old
Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, who was killed on 23rd Street when he was
23 years old. Shultz died on October 23, 1935, raving about
conspiracies and French Canadian Bean Soup. On the same night
that Shultz was killed, gangster Marty Crompier received a minor gunshot
wound. Hearing of Shultz' death, he told police, "It's got to be one of
them coincidences." Shultz's killer, Charlie Workman, served 23
years of a life sentence before he was paroled.
- Hexagram 23 in the "I Ching" means "break apart." The telegrapher's
code for 23 means "break the line." And Aleister Crowley claimed
that 23 represented "parting, removal, separation, joy, a thread,
- Each parent donates 23 chromosomes to a fertilized egg.
- The human biorhythm cycle is generally 23 days.
- It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.
- In the movie "Babe", the pig is the 23rd contestant in the sheepdog
- There are 23 vertebrae in the human body.
- The ideal orbit for a satellite is usually considered to be about 23,000
miles above the Earth--what is sometimes called "Clarke's (!) Orbit".
- 2/3 = .666
- Cervantes died in Spain on April 23, 1616.
- In "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco, the climactic ceremony at the
Conservatoire des Arts et Métiérs in Paris takes place at midnight on
- Dagobert II, the last of the conspiracy-beloved Merovingian Kings, was
killed on December 23 in the Ardennes Forest in France.
- Comet Hale-Bopp was closest to Earth on March 23, 1997.
- Lucy and Desi formed Desilu Productions on
April 23, 1950.
- The first moon landing set down in the Sea of Tranquility, 23.63
degrees East. The second landing was in the Ocean of Storms, 23.42
degrees West. Additionally, the mission numbers of Apollo 11 and 12 add up to 23.
- The 23rd letter of the English alphabet is W. If you look at it
carefully, you will note that it consists of 2 points facing down and
3 facing up.
- Euclid's "Geometry" includes 23 Axioms.
- The Knights Templar had only 23 Grandmasters before the execution
of Jacques de Molay and the end of the order.
- During the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King trial in 1992, a
Korean shopkeeper was filmed standing on the roof of his store firing
a gun at looters. Directly behind him was a large sign that said "23"...and
- 23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers
which add up to another prime number.
- The Federal Reserve Act passed Congress on December 23rd, 1913.
- There are 23 letters in the Latin alphabet.
- The Freemasons lodge in Stafford, England is located at 23 Jaol
Road. In New York City, it is on 23rd Street.
- On average, every 23rd wave crashing to shore is twice as large
- The Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees.
- In "Star Wars", Princess Leia is imprisoned in the Death Star's AA-23
detention block, which is located on Level 5. Also, in the final assault on
the Death Star at the end of the movie, Luke Skywalker pilots Red 5. Red
2 and Red 3 begin the bomb runs at 23 degrees.
- William Shakespeare was born and died on April 23. Also, he was
46 years old (23 + 23 = 46) in 1610 (1 + 6 + 1 + 0 = 8 = 23),
which was the year the King James Version of the Bible was published. The
46th word in Psalm 46 of that translation is "shake", and the 46th word
from the end is "spear".
- Speaking of the Bible, the best known of the psalms is Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want..."
- Area 51 = 23 + 23 + (2 + 3).
- In the movie "Airport", the mad bomber sits in Seat 23.
- On a related topic, 230 people died in the mysterious and controversial
crash of TWA Flight 800.
- The Battle of Lexington, the burning of the Branch Davidian compound
at Waco, and the Oklahoma City Bombing all took place on April
19th. So what? Well, April 19 can be written as 4/19, and 4 + 19 equals...
- The number 23 written in base 3 is 212 (2 + 1 + 2 = 5). In base
4, 23 is 113 (1 + 1 + 3 = 5). And 23, in base 7, is 32 (3
+ 2 = 5).
- The number of letters in William Jefferson Clinton is 23.
- Gangster John Dillinger was shot as he left a movie theater at 2323
Clark Street ("Captain Clark welcomes you aboard...") in Chicago. Dillinger
robbed 26 banks, but only 23 were robbed for money.
- In "Happy Gilmore", the number on Adam Sandler's helmet is 23.
- The United States performed 23 atomic weapon tests at Bikini Atoll.
- The Unabomber killed or injured 23 people.
- In the film "The Prophecy", the Bible belonging to the dead angel
Uziel is bookmarked to the 23rd chapter of the Book of Revelations.
There is, however, no 23rd chapter of Revelations...
- "Ten Thirteen" (10 + 13 = 23) is the production company behind "The
X-Files". October 13 (or 10-13) is also creator Chris Carter's birthday.
- And suspiciously absent: John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963;
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot on November 24, 1963.
Of course, when I first heard about this, I thought, "Oh, what a load
. You could get the same results by concentrating on any number for long enough. Hell, I could do that with--oh--17
!" Not long after, I discovered that 1 + 7 = 8, and 8 equals...23