Numerology aims to divine the future, guide human behaviour, predict the outcome of relationships and divine the unknowable by finding out a person's numbers. For example, if the number nine has a particular vibration, a person whose number is nine has the same vibration. The idea behind numerology is that the cosmos and your life are affected by your date of birth, your birth name and many other factors surrounding an individual. Numerology is the pseudo-scientific and pseudo-mathematical belief in a divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events.
It is also the study of the numerical value of letters in words, names and ideas. It is often associated with the paranormal, along with astrology, and is similar to the divinatory arts. Some alchemical theories were closely related to numerology. For example, the Arab-Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan framed his experiments in an elaborate numerology based on the Arabic names of substances.
Numerology figures prominently in Sir Thomas Browne's 1658 literary discourse The Garden of Cyrus. Throughout its pages, the author attempts to demonstrate that the number five and the related Quincunx pattern can be found in all the arts, in design and in nature, especially in botany. There are several systems of numerology that assign a numerical value to the letters of the alphabet. Examples are the Arabic abjad numerals, Hebrew numerals, Armenian numerals and Greek numerals.
The practice within the Jewish tradition of assigning mystical meaning to words based on their numerical values, and connections between words of equal value, is known as gematria. Some Chinese assign a number of different meanings to numbers and certain number combinations are considered more fortunate than others. In general, even numbers are considered lucky, as it is believed that good luck comes in pairs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and its associated fields such as acupuncture, base their system on mystical numerical associations, such as that the 12 vessels that circulate blood and air correspond to the 12 rivers that flow to the Central Realm; and that the 365 parts of the body, one for each day of the year, are the basis for locating acupuncture points.
Scientific theories are sometimes labelled as numerology if their main inspiration seems to be a set of patterns rather than scientific observations. This colloquial use of the term is quite common within the scientific community and is mostly used to dismiss a theory as questionable science. The best known example of numerology in science concerns the coincidental resemblance of certain large numbers that intrigued such eminent men as the mathematical physicist Paul Dirac, the mathematician Hermann Weyl and the astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington. These numerical coincidences concern quantities such as the ratio of the age of the universe to the atomic unit of time, the number of electrons in the universe, and the difference in forces between gravity and the electric force for the electron and the proton.
Is the universe fit for us? The discovery of the atomic triads, an early attempt to rank the elements in some logical order by their physical properties, was once considered a form of numerology, yet it eventually led to the construction of the periodic table. Here the atomic weights of the lightest and heaviest elements are added together and averaged, and the average is found to be very close to that of the element of intermediate weight. This did not work for all triplets in the same group, but it worked often enough that later workers could create generalisations.