While it is humanly possible to memorize π to thousands of digits, remembering a new phone number under 10 digits can cause headaches for many.
Long numbers show up all over the place: serial numbers on a piece of technology, unique government ID numbers, even advertisements in the mail can be tagged with these. It gets ridiculous when a character is expected to instantly use it as if they had photographic memory. Cue typos, missing 1 out of 9000 digits, or forgetting to convert between standard and metric. An idiotic character will often mix in letters and possibly entire words, then wonder why their machine won't work like it's supposed to. A genius will recite multiple numbers flawlessly and fluently read pages of binary encoding as well.
Missing Super Trope to Password Save & Ridiculously Long Phone Number. Compare with Ludicrous Precision. Contrast with The Law of Conservation of Detail.
Examples:
Comic Strip- Foxtrot: Jason and Marcus once refer to website URLs by numbers instead of letters.
- Inception: Cobb forces Fischer at gunpoint to say ASAP the first 6 digits that come to mind. Later on, Fischer is asked to remember them.
Fischer: 5, 2... something... it was a long number.
- The Last Remake of Beau Geste includes a television commercial for "Honest Hakkim's" used camel dealership, and a 193-digit telephone number scrolls across the screen.
- The Running Man. When Weiss obtains the code to activate the uplink interface, he asks Amber Mendez to remember it. It's a long string of numbers, which Amber realistically finds difficult to remember.
- Non-numeric example: Dave Barry In Cyberspace demonstrates a ludicrously long website address.
Q. How can I get on the Web?
A. It's easy! Suppose you're interested in buying a boat from an Australian company that has a Web page featuring pictures and specifications of its various models. All you have to do is fire up your World Wide Web software and type in the company's Web page address, which will probably be an intuitive, easy-to-remember string of characters like this: http//:www.fweemer-twirple.com/heppledork/sockitomesockitome@fee.fle/fo/fum.-0
Q. What if I type one single character wrong?
A. You will launch U.S. nuclear missiles against Norway.
Theater
- In the Theatre Of The Absurd play The Lesson by Eugene Ionesco a professor is flummoxed by a student who he has a hard time teaching basic math principles to.
Professor: Unless you can comprehend the primary elements, how do you expect to calculate mentally - and this is the least of the things that even an ordinary engineer must be able to do - how much, for example, are three billion seven hundred fifty-five million nine hundred ninety-eight thousand two hundred and fifty one, multiplied by five billion one hundred sixty-two million three hundred and three thousand five hundred and eight?Student: very quickly That makes nineteen quintillion three hundred ninety quadrillion two trillion eight hundred forty four billion two hundred nineteen million one hundred sixty four thousand five hundred and eight.Professor (astonished): No. I don't think so. That must make nineteen quintillion three hundred ninety quadrillion two trillion eight hundred forty four billion two hundred nineteen million one hundred sixty four thousand five hundred and nine.Student: No, five hundred and eight.Professor (more and more astonished, calculating mentally): Yes...you are right...the result is indeed he mutters unintelligibly...quintillion, quadrillion, trillion, billion, million,...clearly one hundred and sixty four thousand five hundred and eight... (stupefied) But how did you know that, if you don't even know the principles of arithmetic reasoning?Student: It's easy. Not being able to rely on my reasoning, I've memorized all the products of all possible multiplications.
- Every Space Corp Directive from Red Dwarf is a ridiculously long number. Played for Laughs whenever Rimmer tries to quote one and gets it wrong, to be corrected by Kryten. Apparently during filming, the numbers had to be held up on large pieces of cardboard for the actors to read.
- In the Star Trek TOS episode "The Mark of Gideon", a key plot feature is the transposition of two numbers in a set of transporter coordinates.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Access Code from Hell.
- [An important point in at least the first episode of the Kiefer Southerland show Touch] {need more info}
- Older Video Games didn't have a way to save, instead giving a code to write down, which got progressively more complex.
- More recently, certain cartridge-based games have used passwords to encode character and story status between cartridges. These passwords tend to be extremely long with a wide variety of characters. Some examples:
- Golden Sun uses a 260-character password as a save data importer for its sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age.
- The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, each of which uses passwords of approximately 48 characters ranging from letters and numbers to various geometric shapes to pass data to the other game.
- Nintendo Game Genie codes were 8 digits minimum going to 13 digits for PS2 Action Replay codes.
- In a joke Game Mod for Deus Ex, "The Malkavian Mod", there is a lady in front of the women's restroom who openly tells you one of these. The code actually will unlock the women's restroom, wherein one of your goals resides, but she says it so fast that it's almost unintelligible, and she only says it once per play-through.
- The Simpsons: A schoolyard patty cake chant when Marge & Homer consider sending Lisa to an expensive school for geniuses:
"Cross my heart and hope to die
Here's the digits that make pi
3.1415926535897932384..."
- Charles Darwin came up with some estimates that were ludicrously precise as well as large. This included the amount of time necessary for geological processes to form the chalk Downs on which he lived (in his Origin of Species) and the number of earthworms in an acre of English soil (in his Earthworms, the last book he published).
- Digits of Pi: 3.14159 is good enough for most calculations (and even super-precise scientific applications don't really require more than 40 digits), but pi has been mapped out to over ten trillion digits by mathematicians and computer scientists with too much free time.
- Digits of Euler's number, or, more informally, e, a constant useful in compound interest equations that equates to 1 + 1/1 + 1/(1+2) + 1/(1+2+3) and so forth ad infinitum. e is approximately equal to 2.71828, but, similarly to pi, goes on forever.
- Values of Planck's constant. Good luck remembering them.
- Geographic coordinates (Latitude and Longitude)
- Powers of 10 & associated spacial distances
- Serial Numbers
- Modern product codes / UPC
- Binary encoding
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.
- In an episode of The IT Crowd, the number for emergency services in England is changed from the simple-to-remember "999" to an absurdly lengthy phone number, ostensibly as a cost-cutting measure to afford "better-looking responders". It even comes with a catchy jingle to help people remember it. The change becomes a plot point later in the episode, when the characters need to put out a fire, but flub the new number.
EDIT: Oh, wait, that's because Ridiculously Long Phone Number exists. (Well, why are we quoting it here, then? Wouldn't that muddle the issue?)