What's the connection between basketball superstar Michael Jordan, Beat Generation novelist William Burroughs, comedian Harpo Marx and mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr.? The number 23.
But that's not all. In the Bible, Numbers 23:23 contains the phrase "What hath God wrought," which happens to be the first message sent in code on the telegraph by Samuel Morse back in 1843. If you add up the four digits of 1967, the year that Nirvana co-founder Kurt Cobain was born, they come to 23 – which is also the sum of the four digits for 1994, the year in which he died. All of us humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in our genetic makeup. And the medieval Catholic military order, the Knights Templar, had 23 grand masters during its existence.
A skeptic might ascribe all this to mere chance, but some people think there's more to it. If you poke around the internet, you'll discover thousands of web pages devoted to something called the "23 Enigma" — essentially, a belief that the number has some sort of magical or mystical significance and/or power, because of all the instances in which it occurs.
There's even a Facebook page for "23rdians," as people who are fascinated with the number call themselves. It's filled with posts containing the number, ranging from a picture of a restaurant check number 23 that was issued to table 23, to the music video for the 2013 hip-hop song "23" by Mike WiLL Made-It.