Word of the Day – Monday, June 6th



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Six in Spanish
Common clues:
Dos times tres; Cinco follower; Six in Seville; Tres y tres; Spaniard's six; Half of doce; Thrice dos
Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year
How to count to ten in Spanish

Six is the second smallest composite number, its proper divisors being 1, 2 and 3.

Six is the only number that is both the sum and the product of three consecutive positive numbers.

6 similar coins can be arranged around a central coin of the same radius so that each coin makes contact with the central one (and touches both its neighbors without a gap), but seven cannot be so arranged. This makes 6 the answer to the two-dimensional kissing number problem. The densest sphere packing of the plane is obtained by extending this pattern to the hexagonal lattice in which each circle touches just six others.

The evolution of our modern glyph for 6 appears rather simple when compared with that for the other numerals. Our modern 6 can be traced back to the Brahmins of India, who wrote it in one stroke like a cursive lowercase e rotated 90 degrees clockwise. Gradually, the upper part of the stroke (above the central squiggle) became more curved, while the lower part of the stroke (below the central squiggle) became straighter. The Ghubar Arabs dropped the part of the stroke below the squiggle. From there, the European evolution to our modern 6 was very straightforward, aside from a flirtation with a glyph that looked more like an uppercase G.

On the seven-segment displays of calculators and watches, 6 is usually written with six segments. Some historical calculator models use just five segments for the 6, by omitting the top horizontal bar. This glyph variant has not caught on; for calculators that can display results in hexadecimal, a 6 that looks like a 'b' is not practical.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "6_(number)".