On Monday my husband, Howard, gave me the above belated Christmas present. The first thing I needed to do was to identify its purpose! Howard has recently acquired a wood lathe and has made one or two presents for people for Christmas. I was delighted to be included. This creation, it turns out, is a mug warmer! The inside is covered with insulation material and the little slot is there for the handle to poke out of (as you can see). I asked Howard if any significant numbers came to mind when he thought about the making of the mug warmer. He told me that the height from the base to where the top stops being vertical was particularly important as he wanted the warmer to fit my favourite mug. Howard works in millimetres and the measurement is 120mm. Thus, 120 is my number for this blog post.

Urban Dialogue

According to the Urban Dictionary, 120 appears in urban dialogue quite a bit. These are my favourite examples.

120 is used to express anything positive. If someone is 120 then they are the best. If you did something 120 then you could not have done it better. 120 is used as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb and anything else meaning the best.

“I can’t believe you sailed the Atlantic solo. That’s so 120.”

“Jim had us laughing like crazy the other evening. He’s 120.”

120 can be used to express where someone is located. Breaking down ‘120’:

The number ‘1’ references ‘ me’ right now.

The number ‘2’ refers to given lines of latitude and longitude.

The number ‘0’ refers to the point at which the lines of latitude and longitude intersect.

An example:

Chris: “What do you mean?”

Jed: “Where are you?”

Chris: “I’m at the pub on the corner of blah and blah”. Jed: “I’ll be there soon”.

Factorials

The number 120 is the factorial of 5, or 5!

5! Is shorthand for 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5

Some other factorials are:

• 1! = 1
• 2! = 1 x 2 = 2
• 3! = 1 x 2 x 3 = 6
• 4! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 24
• 6! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 = 720

In general, for a positive integer n

n! = 1 x 2 x 3 … (n – 2) x (n – 1) x n

There are many applications of factorials in number theory and in statistics. They are used in permutations and combinations to make quick calculations. An example of this is to count the number of settings of the Enigma machine which Howard and I have written about in our forthcoming book Enigma Uncovered.

Final Thoughts

My surprise gift has led me to discover some interesting urban slang. I’ll be hearing ‘120’ used in language all the time now having never heard it before.