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three




1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.
—anonymous

The number of dimensions of space in which we live; three is also the smallest odd prime number, the second triangular number, and a Fibonacci number. Three is often the number of repetitions in jokes and children's stories (for example, the tale of the Three Little Pigs and of the porridge-eating bears), because it is the minimum number needed to establish a pattern (such as a regular tempo) or to convey the impression of an ongoing sequence or succession. In the Christian tradition, three plays a crucial role: Christ represents one third of the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Ghost), was visited by the three wise men and, 33 years later, when Peter disowned him three times, rose on the third day after the crucifixion, having died at 3 p.m. Other things that come in threes: musketeers, primary colors, wishes, blind mice, bad luck, and London buses.


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   • NOTABLE NUMBERS