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50 Fun Facts About the Number 88

Updated on March 21, 2017
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TR Smith is a product designer and former teacher who uses math in her work every day.

Eighty-eight is an even number with many curious mathematical properties and a lot of cultural significance. Like many numbers with repeated digits (such as 55, 666 or 1111) 88 is often considered a lucky number, especially in Chinese culture. The Internet Movie Database lists dozens of movies and TV series with "88" in the title. When all the line segments of a digital clock are lit, the display reads 88:88. Eighty-eight is a number that reads the same whether you flip it horizontally, vertically, or spin it 180 degrees. Here are 44 more useless facts about this wonderful number.

In Mathematics

The number 88 has several curious mathematical properties and appears as a term in many well-known and obscure sequences.

  • 88 is the 14th number in the Narayana's cows sequence.
  • The sum of the first nine Fibonacci numbers is 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 8 + 13 + 21 + 34 = 88.
  • 88 squared is 7744, the only square number of the form AABB for some digits A and B. The number 7744 is also a Harshad number, since 7744/(7 + 7 + 4 + 4) = 352
  • The sum of its factors is 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 11 + 22 + 44 + 88 = 180. There are only three other numbers whose sum of factors is 180, they are 118, 145, and 179.
  • There is no number whose sum of factors equals 88.
  • An 88-sided polygon is called an octacontakaioctagon.
  • An 88-sided polyhedron is called an octacontakaioctahedron.
  • In binary it is represented 1011000. In number theory, positive integers that have an odd number of 1s in their binary form are called odious numbers. And similarly, positive integers that have an even number of 1s in their binary form are called evil numbers. Thus 88 is odious, not evil.
  • It is a palindrome in base-10. It is represented as 323 in base-5, making it a palindrome in base-5 as well.
  • It cannot be written as the sum of two squares. But it can be written as the sum of three squares in exactly one way: 4^2 + 6^2 + 6^2 = 88.
  • It can be written as the sum of four consecutive prime numbers, 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 = 88.
  • When the rational number 1/1234 is written as a repeating decimal, the period length is 88 digits. This is also true for the rational number 1/8833.
  • There are 163 ways to make 88 cents using pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. There are 187 ways to make chance for 88 cents if you also allow 50-cent pieces.
  • If coins were denominated so that nickels were worth 4 cents, dimes worth 8 cents, quarters worth 22 cents, and pennies still worth 1 cent (values that are all factors of 88) then there would be 280 ways to make change for 88 cents.
  • It is an idoneal number, i.e., a number that cannot be expressed in the form A*B + B*C + C*A, for distinct positive integers A, B, and C. For example, 83 is not an idoneal number because 83 = 4*5 + 5*7 + 7*4. It turns out that the set of idoneal numbers is finite, which makes 88 a very special number.

Eight ways to make 88 with eight eights.
Eight ways to make 88 with eight eights.

In Science

There are also many instances of the number 88 in the physical and biological sciences.

  • It is the atomic number of the element radium.
  • In astronomy, there are 88 modern constellations. These include the ancient constellations named after Greek mythology characters plus many described by astronomers in the 1700s and 1600s. The modern constellations include 42 animals, 17 people, and 29 miscellaneous objects.
  • The melting point of trimethylindium is 88°C.
  • The boiling point of oxane (aka tetrahydropyran) is 88°C.
  • The half-life of plutonium-238 is about 88 years.
  • Mercury completes one orbit around the sun every 88 days.
  • A female sweetpotato bug reaches maturity in 88 days.
  • It is the number of days it takes for reticulated python eggs to hatch.
  • Diaethria anna, common name Anna's eighty-eight, is a butterfly found in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. It is know for its distinctive black and white wing pattern that resembles the number 88. See image below.

The 88 butterfly's wing pattern is a curious accident of evolution.
The 88 butterfly's wing pattern is a curious accident of evolution.

In Sports and Games

Eighty-eight is a popular jersey number in sports and there are hundreds of players who have worn it.

  • There are 127,023,103,852,577,896 distinct games of bowling that result in a score of 88.
  • Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin played with jersey number 88 for the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Also in the Hall of Fame, Alan Page played with jersey number 88 for the Minnesota Vikings. When his football career was winding down, he went to law school and eventually became a justice of the Minnesota state supreme court.
  • Kathy Whitworth holds the record for number of LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) tournaments won -- 88. In fact, no man has won more PGA golf tournaments either. The next highest is Sam Snead, who won 82 PGA tournaments.
  • It is the total number of points in a round of phat, a trick-taking card game played in pairs.
  • In competition mahjong, there are seven ways to score 88 points.
  • It is the number of cards needed to play the solitaire game Mount Olympus -- a double deck minus the aces and twos.
  • Hockey player Patrick Kane was born in 1988, was the 88th draftee in 2004, and scored a career-high of 88 goals during the 2009-2010 season. He currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks with jersey number 88.

A typical modern piano keyboard has 88 pitches.
A typical modern piano keyboard has 88 pitches.

In Culture and the World

Here are more trivia factoids about this number to impress (or bore) your friends.

  • It is the number of keys on a modern piano -- 52 white and 36 black. There are, however, specialty pianos with more and fewer keys.
  • The widely panned movie "88 Minutes" stars Al Pacino and Neal McDonough. It was nominated for two Razzie awards in 2008.
  • The Canadian thriller film "88" is another widely panned movie.
  • In the "Back to the Future" films, the Delorean must attain a speed of 88 miles per hour in order to travel in time.
  • It is the number of counties in the state of Ohio.
  • "The 88" is a residential apartment complex and the tallest building in San Jose, California.
  • The number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture, and by extension so are the numbers 88, 888, 8888, etc. In texting, 88 is shorthand for bye-bye.
  • In Roman numerals, it is written as LXXXVIII, making it the longest number (in terms of characters) under a hundred.
  • Eighty Eight is a town in Kentucky, technically designated as an unincorporated community. It is written without the hyphen, contrary to the standard rules of writing numbers in English. There is also a town in Kentucky named Seventy Six, which should not be confused with the properly hyphenated town of Seventy-Six in Missouri.
  • Award-winning crime drama "The Shield" aired a total of 88 episodes.
  • Famed Mexican actress and singer Maria Felix died of natural causes in her sleep on her 88th birthday. The probability of dying on your birthday is about 0.274%.

Mexican actress Maria Felix lived exactly 88 years.
Mexican actress Maria Felix lived exactly 88 years.

Miscellaneous Trivia

  • The 88th episode of "The Simpsons" was "Bart's Inner Child."
  • The 88th episode of "South Park was "Free Hat."
  • The 88th episode of "Adventure Time" was "Goliad."
  • France assigns two-digit numbers to its departments and it is the department of Vosges.
  • In 1935, Liberian chief Gbili of Sanoyie invented a syllabary for the Kpelle language consisting of 88 graphemes. Unfortunately, it never caught on and today the language is written with the Latin alphabet.
  • 88^88 is a number with 172 digits.
  • 88! is a number with 135 digits.

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