From Pop Songs to the White House — Fun With Mathematical Constants

In the world of science and mathematics, there are certain numbers, functions, and equations of such importance that they have earned distinctive titles. “Avagadro’s Number,” “Planck Constant,” “Pi,” and “Faraday Constant” are just a few examples.

Then we have some that are not as widely known, but they are just plain fun.

Jenny’s Constant

Consider the equation:


For those who are not adept at math (which happens to include every member of the Commonplace Fun Facts staff currently on duty), we’ll save you the trouble of coming up with the answer. It is “867.5309…”

Any aficionado of 1980s pop rock will recognize that as the phone number made famous in Tommy Tutone’s 1981 hit song “867-5309/Jenny.” For that reason, the equation is known as “Jenny’s Constant.”

Listen to “867-5309/Jenny” here.

White House Switchboard Constant

Another fun example is this equation:


Solving for W, you get the answer “0.2024561414…” As it turns out, the phone number to reach the White House switchboard is (202) 456-1414.

Editor’s Note: Trust us on this and do not dial this number unless you have a reason to do so. The White House Communications team is extremely courteous and friendly, but they have better things to do than answer the phone for something like this. If you want independent verification, just look it up in a search engine.

For more fun and interesting numbers, equations, and ways to express them, take a look at these beauties from XKCD.com:

XKCD “Trolling Teachers” by Randall Monroe. Reposted by permission. (https://xkcd.com/1047)

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