My first journalistic assignment straight out of college was editing Martin’s Mathematical Games column in Scientific American. He kept a file on every number. Later, when I wrote a wacky math and brain teaser column under the pseudonym Dr. Crypton, he was generous. I’d call him up and ask him to tell me about a number, say 153. He’d look in his 153 file and report back: 153 is the smallest number that’s the sum of the cube of it’s digits. It’s the number of red shoes Imelda Marcos owned. Etc.