Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

Ohh, spooky.

Since I am a firm believer in the theory that if you learn about something, you will fear it less, I am going to teach you about the number 13 and the fear of it, Triskaidekaphobia.


Thirteen may be considered a "bad" number simply because it is one more than 12, which is a popularly used number in many cultures (possibly due to it being a highly composite number). When a group of 13 objects is divided into two, three, four or six equal groups, there is always one leftover object.

Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse of sorts.

Fear of 13 has also been linked to that fact that a lunisolar calendar must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year.

Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings — it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year. This was later Christianized in some traditions into saying that Satan was the 13th angel.

The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 BC) omits 13 in its numbered list. This seems to indicate a superstition existed long before the Christian era.

See also Friday the 13th for information concerning the traditions and superstitions surrounding this supposedly unlucky day.


An elevator without a 13<span class=
An elevator without a 13th-floor button.

13mm is a very common size when it comes to nuts and bolts. However, Japanese car manufactures such as Nissan and Toyota do not have one single 13mm nut or bolt in their cars.

Some buildings such as One Canada Square in Canary Wharf (the tallest building in the UK) number their floors so as to skip the thirteenth floor entirely, jumping from the 12th floor to the 14th floor in order to avoid distressing triskaidekaphobics, or the building will have 12th floor and floor 12a or 12b instead. Many hotel/casino mega resorts in Las Vegas also lack a 13th floor. This is often applied to home or hotel room numbers as well, and the same is also true of rows in airplanes, as well as cabins aboard cruise ships.

The composer Arnold Schoenberg (ironically born on the 13th) suffered from triskaidekaphobia. He was convinced that he would die aged 76 (because 7+6 = 13). Not only did his premonition come true, he also died on Friday 13 July (another 13: Friday is the sixth day of the week - beginning on Sunday - and July is the seventh month, making 6+7=13) at 11:47 PM - 13 minutes to midnight. Also, adding the numbers 1, 1, 4, and 7 brings up a total of 13.

The Nazi fighter plane developed from the He-112 was designated He-100 in order to avoid the designation Heinkel He 113, which was considered unlucky. In the United States, there has never been a F-13 fighter aircraft due to many pilots being superstitious. The Grumman F-14 Tomcat directly followed the Lockheed YF-12 (a prototype interceptor aircraft which was a close relative of the famed SR-71 Blackbird).

American singer-songwriter John Mayer had 14 tracks on his album Room for Squares, although the 13th is 0.2 seconds of silence and is not listed on the album cover. Likewise, Hot Hot Heat's album Elevator does not list a 13th track on its cover. On the CD the 13th track is four seconds of noise. The reasoning behind it was that since some buildings do not have 13th floors, an elevator would not have a button for it.

Some refer to the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission to the moon as proof of 13 being unlucky. Apollo 13 was launched at 14:13 EST on April 11, 1970 (11/4/70, digits summing to 13) from Complex 39 (three times thirteen). Widespread rumors that it launched at 13:13 local time (EST) are incorrect,[1] although it is true that this corresponds to 13:13 CST - the local time in Houston, Texas, the location of mission control. Apparently, Apollo 13 was also going to go through LOI Lunar Orbit Injection on April 13. Others have noted that for a supposedly unlucky mission, the fact that the crippling accident occurred when the crew was best equipped to cope with it is a lucky occurrence in itself.

The Spanish motor racer Ángel Nieto is famous for saying that he achieved 12 + 1 World Motorcycling Championships. A bio-pic about him is thus titled 12 + 1.

The characters Stan and Hilda Ogden, in the English TV series Coronation Street, lived at 12a Coronation Street to avoid their address being number 13.

In Formula 1, there is no car with the number 13. The number has been removed after 2 drivers were killed in crashes — both driving cars numbered 13, however cars without the number 13 regularly crash as well.

The arrest and murder of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday October 13, 1307. This event is said to be the origin of the supposed unluckiness of Friday the 13th.

Memphis International Airport in Memphis, TN does not have Gate A13, B13, or C13. Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York does not have a gate 13, instead having doors labeled 12, 12A, and 14. Also, the Birmingham International Airport in Birmingham, AL does not contain a gate C13.

In the Disney film The Rescuers, one of the main characters, the mouse Bernard is highly triskaidekaphobic, refusing to step on the thirteenth step of a ladder or stairway. He is shocked to discover that his flight on Orville the albatross is Flight Thirteen.

In San Francisco, the north/south street between 12th and 14th Avenues is called Funston Avenue. However, this is apparently a more recent development because some blocks still have 13th Avenue carved into the curb along its length.

On Friday 13 May 1992, several tornadoes occurred in small hill country towns of Texas. Those towns include Marble Falls, TX, Kingsland, TX, Jarrel, TX and other outlining areas.

Infamous serial killers Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Theodore Bundy all have 13 letters in their names.

Microsoft will not be naming its next Office release as Office 13 (Microsoft shipped Office 12 (a.k.a Microsoft Office 2007) in November 2006) - the working title for the next release of Office (which includes Microsoft Exchange Server) is called Microsoft Office 14).

Corel released the successor to WordPerfect 12 as WordPerfect X3.

In a popular book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, there has been many cases of the number 13. It includes 13 books in the official series, 13 chapters in each book, and multiples of 13 in many of the things that happen. Even the last of the series was released on 13 October 2006, which is a Friday.

Friday April 13, 2004 - The asteroid 99942 Apophis (previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) passed within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth, very briefly appearing as bright as 3rd magnitude. Apophis may have passed through a 400 m wide "keyhole," which may have put it on a collision course with the Earth in 2036.

In Codename: Kids Next Door, there is a jinx in the Kids Next Door who is numbered 13 (Numbuh 13).

In the town of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, 13th Street is hidden on Catherine Street, but on the minor street, Market Street, which goes past each road, ends at Fort McClure Blvd, not 13th Street.

Similar phobias

An elevator in a residential apartment building in Shanghai - floor numbers 4, 13 and 14 are missing.
An elevator in a residential apartment building in Shanghai - floor numbers 4, 13 and 14 are missing.

Tetraphobia, fear of the number 4 — in Korea, China, and Japan, it is not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels, hospitals, etc.) to have no 4th floor, and sometimes no floor having the digit 4 (14, 41, etc.) at all. Similarly-numbered rooms are also often omitted in any given floors in buildings. The Rio Suites Hotel in Las Vegas has 41 floors, but no 40th or 41st floor. The top two floors are numbered 50 and 51. Here it is only when 4 would be the first digit of a two-digit floor number that it is skipped, while they did not skip the 4th, 14th, 24th, or 34th floors. It is common to find no block number ending in 4 in residential complexes. The Chinese pronunciation for the words "die" and "four" are identical, save for tone: "Die" and "four," in Mandarin Chinese, are si3 and si4, respectively, and a similar situation occurs in Cantonese. In extension, the Japanese and Korean pronunciation of these two words derived from Chinese, causing the three cultures to share the same fear for the number four. Interestingly, "3" is often considered a lucky number in these cultures since the word "three," pronounced "san," is similar to the pronunciation of the word "live" or "survive" in Chinese and Korean. Thus sometimes the block number "3A" would be in place where the block "4" should be in some residential complexes. Chinese cellphone numbers containing a 4 are sold at a far lower price. More than half of all 7-digit telephone numbers contain a 4 (or any other digit for that matter) somewhere.

In Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it can be re-arranged as VIXI, which in Latin means "I have lived", the perfect tense, implying "My life is over." (c.f. "Vixerunt", Cicero's famous announcement of an execution.) In Italy, it is not uncommon to notice that buildings do not have a 17th floor, or hotels do not have a room 17. The Italian airline carrier Alitalia does not have a row 17 on its aircraft, and neither does German carrier Germanwings, which flies to many Italian destinations. Renault sold its "R17" model in Italy as "R177."


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