The Number 150

“If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers?” – Thomas Jefferson

150 Psalms

The authorship of these 150 sacred poems is usually ascribed to King David, who lived about 1000BC. Most scholars now believe that they are the work of several authors and were composed from 587-450 BC.

Psalm comes from the Greek psalmos, a song sung to a harp. Some ultra-orthodox Protestant sects (like the Free Church of Scotland) forbid the singing of any hymns that aren’t psalms.

150 Couples

English: Philip II of King of Macedon, Ny Carl...

Philip II of King of Macedon

In the fourth century BC, the most feared squad of the Theban army was made up of 150 homo-sexual couples. They were called the Sacred Band of Thebes, and were established by Gorgidas in 378-BC.

His romantic idea was that lovers would fight more fiercely at each other’s sides than strangers. This notion proved highly successful until the Battle of Chaeronea (338-BC) when the Athenian-Theban army was overrun by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.


In 150BC the Greek Stoic philosopher and polymath, Crates of Mallos, while laid up in Rome, staved off boredom by constructing the world’s first 3D globe.

It showed four symmetrical land masses, separated by water and a central ocean.

150 years ago

Everyone knows that the first sound recording was Thomas Edison saying “Mary had a Little Lamb” on to a sheet of tinfoil in 1877.

But it wasn’t, it now transpires, the first recording of sound. In 1860, the French typesetter Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (1817-1879) invented the phonoautogram, in which amplified sounds moved a stylus to leave squiggles on a piece of soot-blackened paper.

In 2008, technicians in California used digital technology to replay one of Scott’s phonoautograms.

This is now officially listed as the earliest known recording of a human voice.

150 years

Steven Austad, a health researcher at the University of Texas, believes that children who are alive today could easily live to 150.

Based purely on body size, when compared with other mammals, humans shouldn’t live more than 30-40 years. But our large brain enables us to live in complex social groups that give us protection. The evidence is there in other species: solitary wasps have a lifespan of two weeks but social wasps live for three years.

In much the same way lions, which are sociable creatures, live longer than tigers, which are solitary. Austad is so sure that someone alive today will still be here in the year 2150 that he has placed a bet on it with a friend. Presumably he also believes that he will be around to collect.

Professor's Cube

Professor’s Cube

150 years old

The only animal currently capable of living for 150 years is the giant tortoise.

150 squares

The Professor’s cube is a 5 x 5 x 5 version of Rubik’s cube (which is 3 x 3 x 3). It has 150 coloured squares. The world record for solving a Rubik’s cube is 7.08 seconds, held by 21-year-old Dutchman Erik Akkersdik, who has solved the puzzle with his feet in just 90 seconds.

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