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Since the pandemic began last spring, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Provost John Koker has been sending encouraging emails to staff and faculty on occasional Sunday evenings.

It’s been a trying time and he likes to reach out to express his gratitude and offer support for the week ahead. As a mathematician, Koker’s emails often are sprinkled with trivia about numbers.

John Koker

Last night—on the eve of the spring term’s start on Feb. 1, 2021 (2-1-21)—Koker offered 21 fun facts about the number 21, along with his well wishes for the semester.

“I often just look for patterns on the calendar or on a clock … that’s really what math is … finding patterns,” he said.

Koker also is known for sharing his love of all things numerical in his campus speeches.

“People need to know they need to do math, that they can do math and that it’s not scary,” he said.

Here are Provost Koker’s 21 facts about 21:

1. 21 is the sixth triangular number.

2. 21 is the eighth Fibonacci number.

3. There are 21 consonants in the Latin alphabet.

4. The longest winning streak for the Chicago Cubs is 21 games (it’s happened twice!).

5. 21 is the goal in the card game Blackjack.

6. 21 is divisible by the sum of its digits.

7. The 21st amendment repealed prohibition.

8. The title of Adele’s second album is 21.

9. 21 points were needed to win in table tennis and badminton up to 2011.

10. 21 is the atomic number of the chemical element scandium.

11. A 21-gun salute is a military honor.

12. 21 can be written three ways as the sum of consecutive numbers (and 2121 can be written seven ways).

13. The number of pilots who crashed in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons is 21.

14. The Packers named Charles Woodson the greatest player to wear number 21.

15. It is currently the 21st century.

16. It is currently the 21st year of the 21st century.

17. State Highway 21 runs east and west between Oshkosh and Sparta.

18. An icosikaihenagon is a 21-sided polygon.

19. 21 is a movie about MIT students who become experts in card counting.

20. A square die has 21 pips.

21. Those 21 and over can purchase multiple tickets to an R-rated film.

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