The Annotated Numberphile #1 : The First Year

Last updated on April 26th, 2024

This is the start of a new series where I personally annotate every year of Numberphile. I outlined why in a previous post but here is a refresher. I’ve been feeling uninspired lately. My thought was by revisiting Numberphile that it would stimulate my creativity. Remind me of why I’m writing about mathematics.. What it means to me and what is important. It really is a blast watching these videos again and the memories they stimulate.

So please join me as I revisit these classic videos.


The Playlist

Here is the playlist of the first year videos if you want to watch from the beginning. They are in order of publication date. The personal annotations are numbered by the video’s position in the playlist for easy reference. You can view this playlist on YouTube.

There are 92 videos and total playlist time is about 9 hours and 48 minutes. In the top right corner of the playlist embed there is a hamburger menu. Clicking this will allow you to navigate to any video in the playlist.

Personal Annotations

(3) 255

This video reminded me of the recent video of BlueScuti reaching the kill screen of Tetris. This video on Pacman explains why a kill screen occurs. Because the game is 8-bit it reaches its limit on screen 255. If you manage to make it to level 256 the game glitches out preventing further progress.

(4) 16

This is the first video to feature Matt Parker. In it, he describes the origin of MathsJam. MathsJam is a monthly gathering of people who love math who get together to talk about cool math stuff. There might be a local meetup near you. They have them listed on their website. There is also an annual large MathsJam in the UK that gathers everybody.

(6) 6174

I like this video because it shows that math doesn’t have to be useful to be fun.

(14) 98

This is another video with Matt Parker discussing his investigation into math related to the number 98. This video reminded me of why I keep a math journal. Every once in a while, I get a notion about a number or mathematical fact. My journal is a place to explore that. I think it helps me think more mathematically. And extend ideas from what I already know to the unknown. I also love this quote from Matt which highlights one of the reasons why I write about math at all.

Because iIf you find something interesting, someone else will find something interesting.

- Matt Parker

(18) 1 and Prime Numbers

This came about because of something James Grime said about the number one in a video about Mersenne Primes. Which was that one is not considered prime and people wanted to know why. That isn’t why I’m mentioning this video though. This is my favorite quote from all of Numberphile so far.

About the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic:

You can tell this is an important theorem because it has a name. You can tell it is a very important theorem because it has a pompous name.

- James Grime

(Also, I did this essay on the song One by Harry Nillsson which contains the line “One is the loneliest number.”)

(32) Pi

This is the first video with author Alex Bellos. If you don’t know, he is one of the best writers on the topic of mathematics. One of my favorites. Like Simon Singh, he has a talent for writing about math in a way where you don’t have to love math to understand it. Pick up one of his books if you want a good introduction to the topic.

(42) Sexy Primes

As an Odd Couple fan (all iterations), I have to reference the Quincy M.E reference in this video. I’m rather shocked that anyone from my generation would know Quincy. It was a popular show in its time but would be more familiar to our parents. I know about it because of Jack Klugman who plays the titular character. He played Oscar in the 1970’s Odd Couple show.

Another fun fact about the original Odd Couple show is that Tony Randall (Felix) was the voice of the Brain Gremlin in Gremlins 2.

(53) Why do YouTube views freeze at 301?

If you read my articles, you know that I like these artifacts from history. This video is from 2012 where this was still a thing. This had to do with YouTube’s view verification process as explained in this video. This was changed in 2015 to update more in real time. But, hey, we will always have this reminder.

As an easter egg this video always shows 301 views despite being viewed more than 15 million times as of 2021.

(56) 27 the Favourite Number

This is the first video to feature Katie Steckles.

If you like Katie’s work, you can support her through Patreon as part of the Finite Group. You are also supporting Peter Rowlett, Matthew Scroggs, and Ayliean MacDonald. Who have all done free activities, videos, or articles for the math community. One of the perks is a Discord where we all hang out and talk about math. There is a monthly live stream for members only. Though, you can catch this one that was made available to the public.


This is a trilogy of videos about the Rubik’s Cube. I wanted to take the time here to remember Kevin, my best friend’s little brother. His birthday is April 30th and tragically he passed away several years ago. He was a math major and was excellent at spotting the best strategies for any game. One of his talents was solving various types of Rubik’s Cubes and he was often given strange or unusual ones.

Thanks for taking this trip with me down memory lane. This is the first in a series revisiting the first 12 years of Numberphile. Here is the next one in the series.

Continue Reading

  1. Turn Math Anxiety Into Awe Improving Your Health for Pi Day
  2. 25 Math Love Songs and Other Mathematically Themed Videos
  3. 10 Videos That Show the Secrets of Dice

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