On 40

Forty (40) offers a lot of significance, so there is no way to capture forty’s vast nature. Of course, I imagine John will include his share of military references (which I, and hopefully everyone, will appreciate).

Nonetheless, I dedicate this post to the members of my graduating class who recently came together to celebrate our 40 years since high school graduation.

In Mathematics

  • 40 is an octagonal number and a Stormer number
  • Adding up some of its divisors (1, 4, 5, 10 and 20) equals 40, 40 is a semiperfect number
  • To add hours and minutes easily, use 40. Example, to add 2 hr 40 min and 3 hr 30 min, use 240 + 330 + 40 = 610, therefore, 6 hr 10 min

In Science

  • The atomic number of zirconium, which has 40 protons, thus 40 electrons in its neutrally charge state
  • The planet Venus forms a pentagram in the night sky every eight years with it returning to its original point every 40 years with a 40 day
  • Messier object M40 is a magnitude 9.0 double star in the constellation Ursa Major
  • Counting from the woman’s last menstrual period.the number of weeks for an average term of pregnancy

In Religion
The number 40 is significant in the Abrahamic traditions  (some examples)


  • Rain fell for “40 days and 40 nights” during the flood
  • Spies explored the land of Israel for “40 days”
  • The Hebrew people lived in the Sinai desert for “40 years”
  • Several Jewish leaders and kings (Eli, Saul, David, Solomon) ruled for 40 years
  • Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for 40 days before David defeated him
  • Moses spent three consecutive periods of “40 days and 40 nights” on Mount Sinai
  • 40 lashes is one of the punishments issued by the Sanhedrin


  • Before the temptation of Christ, Jesus fasted “40 days and 40 nights”
  • Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. However, Western Christianity excludes Sundays while Eastern Christianity includes Sundays
  • The period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus is 40 days


  • Muhammad was 40 years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel
  • Prophet Ibrahim spent 40 days in a fire and lived because Allah made the fire like flowers
  • Prophet Yunus was in a whales mouth for 40 days
  • Muhammad was praying and fasting in the cave for 40 days
  • Muhammad had 40 followers to spread the religion of Islam
  • Mourning period officially last for 40 days

In Cultures

  • Some Russians believe that ghosts of the dead linger at the site of their death for 40 days
  • In Hinduism, some popular religious prayers consist of 40 shlokas or dohas (couplets, stanzas)
  • To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days. (Arabic proverb), then again, others say “Life begins at 40″
  • The ruby wedding anniversary
  • The customary number of hours in a regular workweek in some Western countries

In Sports

  • Major League Baseball allows each team to have a 40-player roster with major-league contracts at any given time (not including players on the 60-day disabled list)
  • The 40 yard dash is an important metric in football (US) scouting.
  • The third point gained in a tennis game

Retired #40

  • In Major League Baseball: Don Wilson (Astros) and Danny Murtaugh (Pirates)
  • In the NBA: Bill Laimbeer (Pistons), Jason Collier (Hawks), and Byron Beck (Nuggets)
  • In the NFL: Gale Sayers (Bears), Mike Haynes. (Patriots), Tom Brookshier (Eagles), Joe Morrison (Giants), and Pat Tillman (Cardinals)

Old Rosebud won the 40th Kentucky Derby (1914)

NASCAR #40 has won 5 races, led by Sterling Marlin (4). Other drivers include Kenny Wallace, Robby Gordon, David Stremme, Jamie McMurray, Bobby Hamilton, and Dario Franchitti

Steelers defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL

In US History

  • 40 acres and a mule refers to the short-lived policy, during the last stages of the American Civil War
  • The 40th United States Congress (1867-1869) during the third and fourth years of Andrew Johnson’s Presidency, which impeached President Johnson and completed the Alaska Purchase
  • President Ronald Reagan, the 40th US president
  • James K Polk’s slogan: Fifty-four Forty or Fight

In Geography

  • Interstate 40 links California to North Carolina
  • U.S. Route 40 links Baltimore, Maryland, to Park City, Utah, which generally parallels I-70
  • European route E40 links Calais and Ridder, A40  links London and Fishguard), and M40 links London and Birmingham.
  • The 40th parallel north crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The 40th parallel north serves as the boundary between Kansas and Nebraska
  • The 40th parallel south cross much more water than land (Argentina, Chile, Australia (Tasmania), and New Zealand)

In Entertainment

  • A song by Dave Matthews Band
  • A 1983 song by U2 from their album War
  • The radio program American Top 40
  • In The Early Show segment “Chef on a Shoestring”, chefs are given a $40 budget
  • $40 Rachel Ray’s budget for food per day when visiting a city in the show $40 a Day

In the Year 40 AD

  • A leap year starting on Friday
  • Roman Emporer Caligula starts on a campaign to conquer Britain, fails miserably, declares himself victorious, and then he appoints his horse, Incitatus, a senator
  • The Vietnamese Trung sisters rebel against the rule of the Chinese Emperor Guangwu of Han
  • Philosopher Philo teaches that all men are born free
  • Christianity comes to Egypt as a church in Alexandria
  • Mark the Evangelist founds the Coptic Orthodox Church as the first pope
  • An early Christian church erects in Corinth

In the Year 40 BC

  • Either a common year starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday or a leap year starting on Thursday or Friday
  • Treaty of Brundisium: The Roman Republic divided into spheres of influence. Gaius Octavian takes control of the Western provinces while Mark Antony gets the Eastern provinces; The marriage of Antony and Octavia, sister of Octavian seals the treaty

Miscellaneous about Forty

  • The code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania
  • The caliber of the bullet in a number of firearms cartridges, most notably the .40 S&W
  • A great lubricant, WD-40, named after the 40 attempts it took to find this water displacement formula
  • Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, who didn’t have this 40-ounce malt liquor available to them
  • 40 winks references sleep

To learn about other numbers, see Categories > Numbers in the sidebar or click here.

22 thoughts on “On 40

    • Hansi,
      Good news is that this wasn’t based on being 40, but 40 years since HS graduation. On the other hand, I realize you still have us by a few years. But that’s ok as that puts you ahead on the wisdom scale. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.


  1. Okay, off the top of my head, here’s 40 as related to military things, all World War 2:
    1940 was the year of conquest of France, the Low Countries, Denmark, and Norway by the Germans. It was also the year of the “Miracle at Dunkirk (Dunkerque for Meesh)” when a great horde of tiny boats evacuated the British Expeditionary Force and large numbers of French troops before the Germans could capture them.
    40 millimetre was the bore size of the most ubiquitous anti-aircraft gun in American service, the Swedish-designed Bofors gun. 40mm was also the calibre of most tank and antitank guns in British service, known as “2-pounder guns” after the weight of the shot they fired.
    BB-40,was the USS New Mexico.
    P-40, also known as the Kittyhawk, was the make of airplane flown by “The Flying Tigers”, the American Volunteer Group of airmen led by Claire Chennault to fight the Japanese in China, more than a year before the US would join World War 2.
    XB-40 was a modified version of the B-17, devoid of bombs but with extra machine guns, an attempt to make a long range escort for the B-17s and B-24s flying beyond the range of fighter cover. It was a horrendous failure and was never implemented. (The escort version of the B-24 was the XB-41.)
    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll come back with more, later. 😉


    • Good grief! Though not military, how could a gearhead like me miss the Ferrari F40, a 1987 Italian mid-engine sports car?
      By the by, for you gunheads, .40 calibre and 10mm are often used interchangeably – the bore size is VERY similar, and even ammunition built for one can (sometimes) be used in the other.
      And speaking of guns, 40 centimeters (roughly) is the largest naval rifle used by the US and Britain – 40.6cm or 16″. Only the Japanese Yamato-class battleships carried larger, 18.1″ guns – the largest ever carried on a modern battleship.
      CL-40 was USS Brooklyn, the name ship of a class of WW2 light cruisers.
      And the craziest of all, the A-40T, was a Soviet attempt to make a flying tank. Yes, they attached glider wings and a tail assembly to a tank to allow it to glide into combat. It did work, but the tank used had such light armour and such a small gun that it wasn’t effective in combat, and the concept came to naught.
      (There’s more, but I don’t want to put EVERYONE to sleep! 😉 )


    • K-Street,
      This is one of those things I do that is simply fun to dig through the stuff. And as you well know, there is endless amount of stuff that could be used. Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for stopping by.


  2. A fun post Frank… do men enter “men”opause at 40 or is it 30??? LOL Have a great weekend!

    Must say eh!! to John E. I’m doing great here in Canada, hope all is well with you too, cheers!


      • One thing John, “Thanksgiving’s Day” here in Canada is not within the magnitude that you guys celebrate it. Not within my milieu, perhaps in other families. It’s been recently expressed to me by a fellow canuck, it’s another “Sunday Dinner get-together”

        I anticipate the USA’s Thanksgiving Day, for it’s also at the time of my birthday. WOOHOO or maybe BOOHOO!.

        So I will say “Happy Columbus Day” to you my friend!


        • Ouch, you get a birthday and our Thanksgiving? I get my birthday and Christmas – 3 days apart. And since my father and sister were also born in December, our family used to celebrate birthdays on Thanksgiving. So I know how you feel! 😉
          And a Happy Columbus Day to you – though I’m not sure how to celebrate it, except to go out and buy a mattress, based on our TV advertising! 😀


    • Meesh,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. These are always fun to do. Weather has been wonderful. Yesterday we drove down into Kentucky yesterday for our first ever stop along the Bourbon Trail. Very nice and had a good time … well, except for the horrible service at lunch that caused us to waste a bit more than an hour. Thanks for commenting.


  3. A quick explanation of the WOOHOO,(in my last comment) as a kid I would watch the USA MACY DAY PARADE (on tv) when it fell exactly on my birthday…how kewl is that! (sorry I did not follow football) Your USA Thanksgiving also marks “our” official Christmas season too… a magical time of the year!

    Soooo here in Canada, our Thanksgiving denotes Harvest time. I believe we follow the European traditions, I do think the USA have the timeline spot on,oh well.

    As for my BOOHOO (no biggie) I’m one year older whenever you have your Thanksgiving Day.


    • Meesh,
      I recall being in Vancouver on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I quick saw that it seemed like just another day … as as you say, just another Sunday dinner get together. And all that is ok. So, now I have to remember your birthday is linked to our late-November day of stuffing ourselves. But hey … I can see that seeing the Macy’s parade on your birthday is special! Although the parade is in New York City, keep in mind that Macy’s HQs is here in Cincinnati.


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