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The Number 31 — What Does It Mean?

For Jim Carrey it was the number 23, for Douglas Adams it was 42. And for me, weirdly, it's the number 31.

The number 31 keeps showing up in my life at the moment, especially in relation to my novel, The Raw Shark Texts. Don't believe me? Okay, check this out — I am 31 years old now, this year, at the time my first novel is released. At the time of its release, Raw Shark had sold into a total of 31 counties. The day after its release, it hit its highest sales rank to date on a certain other bookselling website: Sales rank 31. And proceeded to enter the UK hardback fiction chart at, you guessed it, No. 31.

All of which is just unusual rather than creepy or significant, of course, but, if the universe is trying to speak to me, then I suppose I should at least take a second to tune in the radio. As a fun experiment then, I'm just about to type '31 Steven Hall' into Google and see what happens. The secret to life the universe and everything? Well, let's see...

Okay, so first up, there's another Steven Hall, at MIT I think, judging from the website address, completing his own final project on October 31, 2005: Looks like some sort of homemade computer.

What next? Ahhh… there's yet another Steven Hall, a painter this time, whose book was released on the 31st January 2005.

Then this, another Steven (or Stephen) Hall, and another 31:

Toxic Environment
Program 97-08-31-B

"Also, Stephen Hall tells Steve Paulson about his work in immunotherapy. Hall thinks vaccines can be used to trigger the immune system to resist some malignancies. Hall writes for the New York Times Magazine..."

Here's a good one: Someone called Carrie on a message board looking for an 'Ernest Stephen Hall'. Carrie joined the message board on 31st December and posted this particular message at 1:31.

Okay, this one's a bit more impressive: The Stephen S Hall hotel in Dublin apparently has 31 rooms.

And here another Steven Hall plays piano on a CD featuring Sonata for Piano no 16 in G major, Op. 31, by old Ludwig Van.

Thirty-one out of 81 CEOs received no bonuses last year....Steven Hall, a managing partner at Pearl Meyer, said the recession is ultimately prompting…

Okay, well so much for that. A little bit interesting here and there, but hardly the key to life the universe and everything. More static than Stephen Hawking. So is there anything fun to be learned about 31 itself? What if I just stick 31 into Google on its own..?

We get this from Wikipedia:

Messier object M31, a magnitude 4.5 galaxy in the constellation Andromeda. It is also known as the Andromeda Galaxy, and is readily visible to the naked eye in a modestly dark sky.

Thirty-one is also:

• The number of days in the months January, March, May, July, August, October and December

• The code for international direct-dial phone calls to the Netherlands

• A type of card game

• A type of game played on a backgammon board

• The number of flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream

• In Star Trek, the name of Section 31, a secret police shadow organization of the Federation

• ISO 31 is the ISO's standard for quantities and units

• In Family Guy, the Griffin house number on Spooner Street

• In the title of the anime Ulysses 31

• In the title of Nick Hornby's book 31 Songs

• Turkish slang for masturbation ("otuzbir")

• Jeff Burton's racing #

• 31 Records, a record label

And there are 31 planes of existence, according to this.

And 31 letters in the Russian alphabet according to this.

So what does it all mean?

Well, nothing by the looks of things.

It's all just random noise. But then Gregory Chaitin says that even the things we thought were solid and logical and predictable, like mathematics, are mostly just a big dark churning ocean of random and unprovable truths.

But, it's always nice to check, isn't it..?


Books mentioned in this post

Steven Hall is the author of The Raw Shark Texts

26 Responses to "The Number 31 — What Does It Mean?"

    Sam Wisenheimer March 21st, 2007 at 11:47 am

    GAAAAHHH!! And your blog was posted on 11:31 am!!!

    Lew Filt March 21st, 2007 at 11:48 am

    plus you sold the movie rights for 31 million dollars!!

    Andrew March 22nd, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    'Pretty Fly For A White Guy' by The Offspring:

    "He asked for a 13/But they drew a 31"

    Alfredo March 24th, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I have been going through very similar experiences with the number 31 for a while. In fact, I found your blog while searching for a meaning for this number.
    It happens all the time, each time I look at the clock, a car plate, a restaurant menu, etc. This has been specially happening since some personal troubles changed my life. Last night my ex-girlfriend and I went to an hotel, in search of reconciliation. Right after leaving our room and when I got in my car it came to my mind the idea of checking the time (because it was too late) and my car mileage, since I was running out of gas. Surprise!! The mileage count was something like 3155 and the current time 3:01. I felt freaked, and after some time I watched the clock again, 3:11am.

    Jeremy July 23rd, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Ok hows this:
    I was born on Dec 13 1977
    thats 1+2+1+3+1+9+7+7=31
    my mother's birth day was apr 13 1949
    my father's birthday was may 7 1945

    it get worse:
    using a cipher of a=1, b=2, c=3 ..etc.
    my name is jeremy, so that's
    j=10 e=5 r=18 e=5 m=13 y=25

    although i prefer not to post it, i can tell you my last name also equals 31

    as does my father's name Jerry = 31

    I relaxed some when i figured out that my mom's name Lee does not = 31, but then I realized that L=12 E=5 E=5 or 1+2+5+5=13 and that's just 31 backwards.

    Lo Diggs August 17th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    The number 31 one is like direction for me it shows up everytime things are right. And whenever I will advance. If it is not present I often go to see if I'm wrong and the result is not profitable. I am starting not to resist this phenomenon anymore my mother died November 13th

    Angie May 22nd, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Like some of you on here, im alittle ta takenback on why the numbers 3 and 1 are are always present on clocks and other places that i look, hence wanting to find find an answer and finding this blog. Always too feel that when there seems to be significant change in my life, it pops up everywhere...glad im not the only one this is happening to.

    Max July 3rd, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Mann i'm also sufferin from the same problem since a year..
    My birthdate is 4 july 1989
    4 july falls in the 27th week of the year..
    Simply 27 + 4 gives me 31.
    My flat number is 301.
    The numbers on the plate of my bike is 5152 which totals up in 13(31 back)

    Redoane Amade October 3rd, 2008 at 3:59 am

    I myself search the meaning of 31 or
    13 until i found your blog. My father house
    house num is 31, my place of work num
    31. I had once rent an aprtment num
    18-3-1. I am now staying in my own
    house num 13. Both of my vehicles
    have no 1 and 3 on it. My daughter
    was born in 13 Dec. I pursue a Master
    Degree where the class in 3rd floor.
    All the subject code have 1 and 3 num
    on it. What next ? Can anybody here
    tell me any web site that shall
    exlain all this?

    trent steel October 17th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    im a crazy ass lunatic since i
    discoverd this whole 31 phenomenom,
    it all started with lucky 49 numbers
    a couple of months back and its being haunting me since, i think im

    Auto Bozarth June 12th, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I have been seeing the number 31/13 a LOT. Every time I look at a clock, the time (sum of the #'s), ANYTHING. It's always there. I thought it was nothing at first, but then I saw it more and more and now when I see the number it worries me. It's become a part of my everyday life. I searched for the #31 in google and I got paranormal stories, stories of people who have the same problem, and a bible verse: John 13:31 "When he had left, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him."

    By far the most scary thing I found was an article about Julian Blacke State Mental Hospital. A hospital riddled with death and chaos. On Halloween night (October 31), 1989 SIX teenagers went to have a romp through the old aslylum, Some neighbors across the street saw them enter the building and called the police. Four police officers were dispatched to the scene. Twenty minutes later, one of the officers radioed the station, begging for backup. Multiple voices were heard screaming in the background.

    4 of the kids and 3 of the cops were never found. And !!13!! year old Janice Wendelboe, who was one of the only ones found, screamed her vocal cords to shreds every time she saw something red.

    NEwayz... yah, idk wat it means... =|

    Otto Vox June 12th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Oh Auto -- that mental hospital story is fun, but totally fake. Just try to find a record of it. Be a good movie though.

    ??LoStInTiMe?? June 15th, 2009 at 12:26 am

    it's fake??? whoa

    FernandoHWeber June 21st, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    it haunts me too I can't do anything about it but there's many others who are haunted by the number I'm haunted by 31, 14 and 314

    Street July 24th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I wuz lookin up meanings of 31 to figure out What Offspring was talking about in Pretty Fly . Turkish word for masturbation, eh? i doubt that's it, funny though. As for this thing, don't worry bout it, cuz i wuz trying to see my pattern number and it's random chance. 4 example, my email is exactly 24 characters long, 1 more than 23.

    Street July 24th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Wait! 34 or 38 may be my number. 34 million veiwers watch Naked news. the president of this show shares his name with me. Dave Warga. On a phone, the numbers these letters are located on are 3283 92742=34. 38 was my freshman locker # and my old soccer jersey number. my birthday digits add up to 37, 1 less than 38.

    sue 31 October 10th, 2009 at 12:35 am

    i was surfing the net.. and i saw this message board Im 31 and iam curious what 31 really means..

    Chris October 10th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I seem to see the number 31 every single day for about a year and a half. On the Internet, movies, books. And for me it seems to be connected to love, mothers, and babies.
    Examples from last week:
    Like a novel I'm reading (Cryptonomicon) is talking about a woman who may be pregnant, and is talking about another woman who may have a child, and I look up, and I see page number 531.
    131 is on the train in Back to the Future 3, where Clara is trying to catch up with the Doc.
    Just tonight I go to see the movie The Invention of Lying, and 31 is right in my face in the center of the screen, on the roulette table.
    I expect to see it, but I still bust out laughing when I do.

    *asa* October 29th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    ive been doing a project for school aboutt the number 31. after i think about it i have been having the same problums! does anyone kno anything about the number (facts) i could use for the project?

    Becca January 10th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    im 15 and im still at school. for the past year or so ive been looking at my phone during my lunch time whether i be on the school field or in the classroom having lunch with my friends and it's always 13:31. at first i just used to think ah, its half one i have 40mins left. then it became more regular, i used to look and think wait i saw this exact time yesterday, and its 13 which is 31 backwards. 13:31. i dont really see the numbers anywhere else accept the time. only now has it triggered me to look the numbers up because for the past 6 days from monday to saturday ive seen 13:31 EVERY SINGLE DAY!! only not today, but i looked back on a text i missed and the time it came through was 13:31 as if a sign to look at my phone for the time 13:31. this is driving me crazy and i want to know what it means??

    Alison April 1st, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I came across this blog searching for the meaning of the number 31. I too have had strange things happen surrounding the number 31. Always wonderful, advancing things. Passed my professional license test on the 31st. The 31st is always fiscally great. Got an acceptance letter (almost 10 years ago) to my first choice school on the 31st. Got important medical results on the 31st. BOTH of my children were born on the 31st (one of December, one in March) . I have been toying with the idea of getting the number 31 tattooed somewhere on my body as a tribute to my little ones (I am not the tattoo type, so this is a stretch for me), but I want to honor my sweet little people and this great number that keeps showing up!

    Michelle April 25th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I too was searching for what 31 means. I see it all the time! Digital clocks, just what seems to be where ever random numbers are. Particularly 1031. On another note, my son who has autism always write - 23, 43 and 10 although not in any order. He's non-verbal so can't tell me why. I read about PACAL VOTAN, a Mayan 'king' who said something to the effect that numbers are god. It's all very interesting!

    jason May 8th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    The 31 on the catpillar car. There are 31 miles on the earths crust

    sarel August 30th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    You have no idea how weird my encounter with this nr is! It started about 5 months ago and never stopped! This is also why I am on this site! My story is very long and seriously complicated and phenomenally strange! It is like a big puzzle and the pieces are falling into place, bit by bit! It has to do with geometria values, Hebrew name values, a love triangle, and literally hundreds of freaky sitings of the number at the most odd moments! I don't know where this is going but it really is starting to freak my out!! I have told about 15 friends about this and it has totally amazed every person I showed this absolute mind blowing happenings! I sometimes just cannot believe this is happening to me!

    Jonny B July 29th, 2012 at 2:15 am

    My number is 32. I see it everywhere. I did a bit of researching and just maybe I think. 31 is the happy point. 32 is the part where you get obstacles and problems and if you can survive that with happiness. You're on 33. The point of happiness and making other people around you feel better. 33 is you succeeding.

    Daniel April 20th, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Hi, excellent question. I have had a similar thing happening to me so as a Christian I looked up "biblical meaning of number 31" El is one of the Hebrew names for God made up of the letters Lamed and Aleph. Lamed represents 30 and Aleph represents 1 hence 31 represents God. I then googled the words El and God and seems this is the name for God or deity in various religious backgrounds. I'm un aware of your beliefs however so respectfully suggest that it may be your creator calling you to him.
    Regards, Daniel.

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