Is this your lucky number? Seventy-seven things you need to know about 07

2007 ends with a number seen as special around the world. To Christians it represents perfection, while Muslims speak of seven heavens. To others it is lucky, magical or powerful (as well as being the spot count on a ladybird). So will the coming year be special too? To help you decide, and prepare, Simon Usborne reveals the secrets of the mystical number seven


1 Seven is the optimum number of hours of sleep for humans, according to a US scientific study.

2 Seven is seen as a lucky number in many cultures. Japanese mythology talks of Shichifukujin (The Seven Gods of Fortune).

3 The seven deadly sins, or cardinal sins, were refined by Pope Gregory I in the 6th century. They are pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

4 The seven virtues are humility, liberality, chastity, kindness, abstinence, patience, and diligence.

5 At a ceremony in Lisbon on 07/07/07, presumably at 7:07, the results of a global vote for the New Seven Wonders of the World will be announced. The 21 finalists include Stonehenge, the Kremlin and Timbuktu.

6 The superstitious believe that to break a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. The cure: to bury the pieces, or run them in a stream.

7 The average person's digit span (the number of digits they can recall in sequence) is seven.

8 The common ladybird has seven spots.

9 In Vedic Hindu tradition, the human body features seven basic chakras, or "wheels of energy".

10 Bushido or "way of the warrior" is a Japanese code of conduct comprising seven virtues.

11 The seventh son of a seventh son has magic powers, according to Irish folklore, but is a vampire in Romanian legend.

12 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the seventh studio album released by heavy metal band Iron Maiden in 1988.

13 According to many faiths, there are seven heavens, corresponding to the seven heavenly bodies (earth, the sun and the five "naked eye" planets). In Judaism, the seventh heaven is called Araboth and is home to the Throne of Glory, which is attended by the Seven Archangels.

14 Seven is the atomic number of nitrogen.

15 The city of Rome was built on seven hills. They were Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine. Early Rome was ruled by a line of seven kings.

16 Seven days of blessings (Sheva Brachot) follow a traditional Jewish wedding.

17 The seventh and final book in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (below) is set for release in 2007. The sixth instalment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold seven million copies on the first day of its release in America.

18 Shakespeare's "seven ages of man" soliloquy begins "All the world's a stage..." and is delivered by Jacques in Act II, scene seven of As You Like It.

19 In both the Challenger and Columbia Nasa space shuttle disasters, seven astronauts were killed.

20 The seven of clubs in a deck of Tarot cards represents initiative, ambition, drive and desire.

21 According to Buddhist legend, after his birth the Buddha rose to his feet and took seven steps.

22 The first BMW, Nissan and Lotus cars were based on, or licensed reproductions of, the Austin 7.

23 In the vision of the apocalypse described in the Biblical book of Revelations there are seven churches of Asia, seven candlesticks, seven stars, seven trumpets, seven spirits before the throne of God, seven horns, seven vials, seven plagues, a seven-headed monster, and the lamb with seven eyes.

24 Seven is "neutral" on the pH scale. Pure water has a pH of seven.

25 Roy Sullivan, a park ranger from Virginia, US, is the only person known to have survived seven lightning strikes. He shot himself dead in 1983.

26 "Jumpy," "Shifty" and "Snoopy" were among the names rejected for the seven dwarf characters in the 1937 Disney animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

27 The square root of seven (to four decimal places) is 2.6457.

28 Seven years after Charles Grigg created Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda in 1929, he changed the drink's name to 7Up, inspired, one theory suggests, by cattle he saw branded with "7" and "u".

29 In Greek mythology, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, were the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the sea nymph Pleione. They had affairs with several Olympian gods, including Zeus, Poseidon and Ares.

30 The Seven Sisters is a series of chalk cliffs on the East Sussex coast, a set of waterfalls in Norway, and a group of Stalinist skyscrapers in Moscow.

31 The phrase "seven-year itch" was first recorded in 1899. It characterises a man's urge to roam after seven years of marriage, the theme of Marilyn Monroe's 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch, right.

32 In Arabic and Urdu script, seven takes the shape of a large "V". In Telugu, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script, it is written as a backwards "S" and in Gujarat it resembles a "9" with an extended tail.

33 The 7-Eleven chain has more than 30,000 convenience stores in 18 countries. It was named after the opening hours of its first outlet when it opened in Dallas in 1927.

34 Ten films have won seven Academy Awards, including Lawrence of Arabia, Dances With Wolves, Schindler's List and Shakespeare in Love.

35 All the building numbers in the opening scenes of the 1995 thriller Se7en, starring Brad Pitt as a detective investigating a series of murders inspired by the seven deadly sins, start with seven. The delivery of a box at the end of the film was scheduled for 7:07.

36 Brad Pitt also starred in the 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet, the true story of an Austrian mountaineer who befriended the Dalai Lama in the late 1940s.

37 Seven is the fourth prime number, after two, three and five.

38 Seven Dials in London's Covent Garden stands at the intersection of seven roads. Now part of a shopping area, it was a notorious slum in the 19th century, and hosted seven pubs on each of its apexes.

39 John Sturges' 1960 western The Magnificent Seven was a reworking of the 1954 Japanese classic, Seven Samurai, which was directed by Akira Kurosawa.

40 The 32-metre Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai once marketed itself as the world's first seven- star hotel.

41 Netball, handball and water polo are played with teams of seven players.

42 Ancient astronomers believed there were seven planets in the solar system - those celestial objects they could see with the naked eye (the sun, the moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn). In most languages the seven days of the week take their names from these "planets".

43 Seven is the minimum age at which a UK savings account holder can withdraw money.

44 The opposite faces of a dice add up to seven.

45 Seven is the largest number of sticks or any other cylindrical object that can be tied into a bundle such that the shape of the bundle remains fixed.

46 In 1849 the writer John Ruskin published The Seven Lamps of Architecture, which set out seven leading principles. They were sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life memory and obedience.

47 The seventh amendment to the United States Constitution codifies the right to jury trial in certain civil trials.

48 Both Elizabeth Taylor and the late Lana Turner have had seven husbands (and eight marriages). American broadcaster Larry King has had seven marriages (but only six wives).

49 Seven is the international telephone dialling code for Russia and Kazakhstan.

50 The Seven Champions of Christendom are St George, the Apostle Andrew, St Patrick, St Denis, St James Boanerges, St Anthony the Lesser, and St David. They are patron saints of, respectively, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, and Wales.

51 The McCaughey septuplets, born in Iowa in 1997, are the world's first surviving septuplets.

52 Seven segments make up each digit on the simplest electronic clock or calculator displays.

53 Famous footballers to have worn the No 7 shirt include David Beckham, George Best and Eric Cantona.

54 Daniel Craig is the seventh actor to have played James Bond (with the controversial inclusion of Barry Nelson, who starred in a 1954 adaptation of Casino Royale). Sean Connery made his seventh and final outing as Bond in the unofficial Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again. In Ian Fleming's novel You Only Live Twice 007 appears briefly as 7777.

55 A series of seven works of art is called a heptalogy. In the case of films, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia (both to be completed), are examples.

56 Enid Blyton published 15 books in her Secret Seven series between 1949 and 1963. The Secret Seven also appeared in seven short stories, which were collected after Blyton's death and published in 1998.

57 In December 2006, Wisconsin hunter Rick Lisko ran over and killed a seven-legged hermaphroditic deer. "It's a pretty weird deer," he said before eating it, later adding: "It was tasty."

58 Popular music groups with seven members have included Belle & Sebastian, S Club 7 and The Pipettes.

59 The Seven Years' War (1756-63) involved all major world powers and was described by Winston Churchill as the real first world war.

60 The Advertising Standards Authority permits the advertising of condoms on Channel 4 after 7pm (but only after 9pm on other channels).

61 Seventh Day Adventists believe the second advent of Jesus Christ is imminent. Cornflake inventor John Harvey Kellogg was an Adventist. He also campaigned against masturbation and in 1888 published Treatment for Self-Abuse and its Effects.

62 Seven-league boots first featured in the French fairytale Le Petit Poucet by Charles Perrault. They enabled the wearer to reach seven leagues (about 24 miles) at a stride.

63 Luminaries who will turn 70 in 2007 include Shirley Bassey, Colin Powell, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Bobby Charlton and Anthony Hopkins.

64 The Seven Summits is the name given to the highest mountains on each continent. The oldest man to have climbed them all is Ramon Blanco of Spain, who completed the feat at the age of 70.

65 In Dante's 14th century work, The Divine Comedy, the seventh circle of hell is guarded by the Minotaur and receives, among others, the violent, blasphemers and Sodomites.

66 Launched in 1957, the Lotus Seven sports car - later called the Caterham 7 - was banned from competition in the US in the 1960s for being "too fast to race".

67 Wool is the gift traditionally associated with a seventh wedding anniversary. American country singer Kitty Wells and her husband Johnny Wright expect to celebrate their platinum (70th) wedding anniversary in 2007.

68 The heptagram, or seven-pointed star is a traditional symbol for warding off evil. Most American sheriff's badges are heptagrams.

69 When asked to think of a number between one and 10, most people pick seven.

70 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, New York, is known as "Fashion Avenue" due to its concentration of fashion houses, including Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan. The designers have separately been dubbed the "King" and "Queen" of Seventh Avenue.

71 As a child, Jack White, one half of the rock duo The White Stripes, referred to his local Salvation Army charity shop as "the seven nation army" (the name he gave to the band's 2003 hit single).

72 Events that took place on 7/7 include 17-year-old Boris Becker's victory at Wimbledon in 1985, the 2001 Bradford race riots, and the 2005 London bombings. Ringo Starr, Bill Oddie and Michael Howard celebrate their birthdays on 7/7.

73 UK musical duo Zero 7 took their name from a nightclub called Zero Siete.

74 Fiji are holders of the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series.

75 Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is in fact five-and- a-half miles long.

76 The House of Seven Gables, a mansion in Salem, Massachusetts, inspired the eponymous 1851 novel by the American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

77 The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey has sold over 5 million copies in 38 languages since 1989. The seven habits are: be proactive; begin with the end; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergise and; sharpen the saw.

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