Sunday, November 4, 2012


Forty-seven has been the favorite number of Pomona College, California, USA, since 1964. A mathematical proof, written in 1964 by Professor Donald Bentley, supposedly demonstrates that all numbers are equal to 47. However, Bentley offered it as a "joke proof" to further a popular student research project that listed real and imaginative "47 sightings". Bentley used the invalid proof to introduce his students to the concept of mathematical proofs.

Joe Menosky graduated from Pomona College in 1979 and went on to become one of the story writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Menosky "infected" other Star Trek writers with an enthusiasm for the number 47. As a result, 47, its reverse 74, its multiples, or combinations of 47 occur surreptitiously in almost every episode of the program and its spin-offs Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Forty-seven might be mentioned in dialogue or appear on a computer screen, for example:
  • In Star Trek: Generations, Scotty manages to beam up only 47 El-Aurians before their ship is destroyed by the energy ribbon.
  • In the TNG episode "Darmok," the computer of the Enterprise reports to have found 47 occurrences of the word "Darmok" in its database.
  • In the DS9 episode "Whispers," the planet Parada 4 has seven moons.
  • In the Voyager episode "Tattoo," we learn that the Emergency Medical Holographic Channel is 47.
  • In the Voyager episode "Non Sequitur," Harry Kim lives in apartment 4-G, G being the seventh letter of the alphabet. The intentionality of this reference to 47 was confirmed by Brannon Braga, the writer of that episode.
  • In the 2009 film Star Trek, the Enterprise was built in Sector 47 of the Riverside Shipyards, and 47 Klingon ships are said to have been destroyed by Nero's ship, the Narada.
J. J. Abrams, who produced and directed the Star Trek film, carried a few references to the Star Trek franchise into contemporary episodes of his TV series, Fringe, one of those references being the number 47. In the Season 1 episode "Bad Dreams", aired shortly before the release of Star Trek in theaters, Nick Lane's bulletin board features a large centrally-located sheet of paper with only the number 47 in huge typeface. It recurs again in the series, for example 47 minutes being the maximum amount of time for a time chamber in the show to last, and there being exactly 47 shapeshifters.

The 47 society is an outgrowth of the "movement" started at Pomona College. They explore the belief that 47 occurs in nature more frequently than other numbers and share their personal sightings in consideration of 47 being "the quintessential random number".

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