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Stob Today was ‘open doors day’ at Softwron Inc, the US software and litigation giant. Softwron is the first company to take advantage of the US Patent Office’s surprise announcement that integers are patentable. To counter recent unfavourable coverage, the company took a party of top-notch journos, your correspondent naturally included, around its secret research facility.

The so-called ’Wron number itself is held in a reinforced safe in a deep vault specially excavated out of the side of a mountain in an inaccessible part of an unmarked state. Engineers who need to work with the number are only allowed to do so under the closest supervision. The whole place is dimly lit with lots of low-level concealed red-coloured lighting, to make it all seem more exciting.

The security guards are carefully chosen to avoid compromising the company’s interest. Like all non-technical Softwron employees, they must pass strict innumeracy tests before being allowed to work in the facility. To even be considered, candidates must suppose that by picking the same set of lottery numbers every week they are gradually improving their chances of winning, because it stands to reason.

If they are to work in the vault itself, they must be demonstrably confused by simple percentages. According to the site’s head of personnel, the ideal employee is one of those rather irritating people who believe that to say "Pshaw! I’ve always been thick at maths, me, since Miss Eversham in Form 3" is a good way of demonstrating a happy-go-lucky and clubbable personality.

Naturally, we weren’t shown the Number, although the correspondent from a Washington broadsheet did claim to catch a glimpse of a single digit. This may have been a ‘1’ or a ‘7’. He wasn’t sure or even Pshaw! in the dim red light.

At least one actual fact was established by the press trip. A company spokesman formally denied the Internet rumour that the ’Wron number is one of the so-called ‘pure sinatra numbers’.

According to top mathematicians, the best-known example of a pure sinatra number is 14,991,338,361,953,636,352, although partial sinatra numbers are known to exist too. Sinatra numbers are one of Single Mother Nature’s wonders, having special and unusual properties that make them unlike non-sinatra numbers. To investigate these properties, you need to display the sinatra number in hexadecimal format. Like the Windows calculator can. If you can be bothered. ®

© Copyright 2003 Verity Stobb

Five Stob stories on Number Patentability (read them in sequence)
Numbers to be patentable
Patented numbers ‘a good idea’
First integer patented
Softwron shows off its new technology
’Wron number caught in Fermat-defying romp

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