On the Number 4
Four Geometric Dimensions:|
Point, Line, Square, Cube (0, 1, 2, 3)
If the cube is moved one unit length into the 4th dimension, it generates a 4-dimensional unit hypercube. So the hypercube represents the fourth dimension beyond our 3-D world. Salvador Dali's Corpus Hypercubus (1954) portrays the crucified Christ levitating showing transcendance beyond the earth.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
(Trevor Morris Photographics)
The Four Seasons is a set of four violin concertos (1725) by Antonio Vivaldi. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. "Winter" is peppered with silvery pizzicato notes from the high strings, resembling icy rain, whereas "Summer" evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement. Four Seasons is also a mosaic (1974) by Marc Chagall located in Chase Tower Plaza in Chicago.
Four Elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth|
The four elements were first written by the Greek philosopher Empedocles (490-430 BC) around 450 B.C. and elaborated by Plato in his Timaeus. The idea that everything was made of these fundamental elements had a deep influence on early Western science. It was a central aspect of alchemy until Robert Boyle demonstrated there were more than four elements in 1661. In India, space (akasha) was the fifth element beside air, fire, water, and earth. The Chinese five elements (Wu Xing) are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
Boreas is the Greek God of the North Wind who lived in Thrace. He blew from the north, whistling through his conch. The violent and stormy North Wind was capable of terrific destruction. Sometimes he helped sailors by providing them with a friendly breeze.
Notus is the god of the South or Southwest Wind, which is a very warm and moist wind, bringing with it fog and rain. Being the wind of fog and mists, Notus was dangerous to shepherds on the mountaintops or to mariners at sea, for he hindered visibility.
Eurus is the Greek god of the East Wind, and is brother to Zephyrus, Boreas and Notus. Like his siblings, Eurus was a winged god, the strong wind that brought warmth and rain from the east.
Zephyrus is the Greek god of the West Wind, believed to live in a cave on Thrace. Zephyrus also abducted the goddess Chloris (Flora in Roman) and gave her dominion over flowers. In Roman myth, he is Favonius, the protector of flowers and plants (Botticelli's Primavera).
Four Moon Phases:|
New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, Third Quarter
Four Phases of the Moon: New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, Waxing Crescent, New Moon. The new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun. At a full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are in approximate alignment, just as the new moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth. The first quarter and third quarter moons (both often called a "half moon"), happen when the moon is at a 90o angle with respect to the earth and sun. So we are seeing exactly half of the moon illuminated and half in shadow.
Four Major Archangels:|
Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel
Archangel is an angel of high rank.
Michael is field commander of God's Army. He is mentioned in Book of Daniel, Book of Jude, and Book of Revelation, in which he leads God's armies against Satan's forces during his uprising. In Hebrew, Michael means "who is like God".
Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger from God. He first appears in Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretold the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus.
Raphael is an archangel of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who in the Judeo-Christian tradition performs all manners of healing. The root of the name Raphael also appears in the modern Hebrew word Rophe meaning doctor of medicine, thus echoing the healing function.
Uriel is one of the archangels of post-Exilic Rabbinic tradition, and also of certain Christian traditions. His name may have analogies with Uriah. In Hebrew, Uriel means "God is my light". Uriel appears in Second Book of Esdras and in Leonardo's painting Virgin of the Rocks (1486).
Four Evangelists: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John|
In Christian tradition, the Four Evangelists refers to the authors writing the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles: Gospel according to Mark, Gospel according to Matthew, Gospel according to Luke, Gospel according to John. Authorship of the three synoptic Gospels is now often held to date from c. 70 AD and later. Religious icons refer to Mark as Lion, Matthew as Man, Luke as Ox, and John as Eagle. Matthew was a former tax man and one of the 12 Apostles. Mark was a follower of Peter and also an "apostolic man". Luke was a doctor and also wrote the Book of Acts. John was a disciple of Jesus, and probably the youngest of his 12 Apostles.
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:
Conquest, War, Famine, Death|
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the Bible's New Testament, called Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) opening the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. The four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. Left: Albrecht Dürer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalyse (1498).
Four-Petals Flower: Clematis tangutica|
Clematis tangutica is perhaps best known as the Golden clematis, but also goes by the names Old Man's Beard, Virgin's Bower, Russian Virgin's Bower, and Golden Tiara. A native to China, Clematis tangutica has become a gardener's and landscaper's favorite. It is a vigorous grower, normally attaining a height of 15 to 20 feet, with a 6 to 10 foot spread. It blooms in the late summer or early fall, with a profusion of intense golden bell-shaped blossoms with four pointed petals, each containing crimson filaments on the inside of the bloom. Even the fluffy seed heads are quite attractive, when observed en mass no doubt contributing to the name of "Old Man's Beard". (Flowers with 4 petals)
Four Croquet Balls:|
Red, Blue, Black, Yellow
Croquet is a lawn game, played both as a recreational pastime and as a competitive sport. It involves hitting plastic or wooden balls with a mallet through hoops embedded into the grass playing court. The modern game with set of rules was registered by Isaac Spratt in November 1856. Lewis Carroll featured a surreal version of the game in the popular children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; a hedgehog was used as the ball, a flamingo the mallet, and playing cards as the wickets.
Four Heart Chambers:|
Left Atrium, Right Atrium, Left Ventricle, Right Ventricle
The cardiovascular system delivers blood, nutrients, ions, gases, and heat throughout your body. The heart must pump the oxygenated blood to your organs, tissues, and bones. The blood from the lungs reenters the heart through the left atrium. The left atrium them pushes blood into the left ventricle, which in turn pumps the oxygenated blood throughout your body. Notice that blood always enters the heart through an atrium, and always leaves the heart through a ventricle. The average adult heart pumps 2000 gallons of blood per 24 hour day.
Four Sides in a Square:|
The square represents the quarternity or the solidity of earth. It connotes dependability, honesty, shelter, and safety. It corresponds to the number four elements of fire, water, air, earth. Psychologically, its form conveys firmness and stability, thus its frequent use in symbols of organization & construction (symbol for building in masonry). Town square symbolizes the activity center of a city Trafalgar Square (London), Red Square (Moscow), Tiananmen Square (Beijing), Times Square (New York), and Ghirardelli Square (San Francisco). Many board games are played on squares chess, checkers, and Go. Returning to square one means starting with the basics or returning to the origin. The square symbolizes the starting point of creativity when the artist faces an empty canvas or the poet a blank sheet of paper. Lao Tzu (circa 600 BC) says The great square has no corners (Tao Te Ching, XLI), conjuring the image of an unbounded square extending to infinity. Squaring the circle in alchemy means transforming heaven (circle) to earth (square). This is the secret joy of artists and poets when mind embraces the universe, making their canvas and paper shine with wonderful color and music for us to enjoy.
Four Signs in Arithmetic:|
Plus, Minus, Times, Divide
These four operating signs in arithmetic received a trademark #78774738
"PLUS MINUS TIMES DIVIDE" on January 16, 2007
Four Faces in Tetrahedron:|
In geometry, a tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each vertex. A regular tetrahedron is one in which the four triangles are regular, or "equilateral", and is one of the Platonic solids. A tetrahedron has 4 vertices, 4 faces, and 6 edges. Because of its sharp vertices, the tetrahedron is associated with fire. The tetrahedron shape is seen in methane (CH4) and ammonium ion (NH4+) that have four hydrogen atoms surrounding a central carbon or nitrogen atom with tetrahedral symmetry. For this reason, one of the leading journals in organic chemistry is called Tetrahedron.
Fourth Day of Creation in Genesis 1.14-19:|
"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day."
Four Noble Truths of Buddha:|
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, taught by Buddha (563 BC-483 BC) upon his awakening under the Bodhi Tree:
1) Life is suffering.
2) Suffering is caused by craving.
3) Craving has a cure.
4) Cure is the Eightfold Path.
Eightfold Path: Right speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration, thought, and understanding lead us to Enlightenment.
Four Calling Birds:|
In the traditional song The Twelve Days of Christmas, "On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds..." One usually interprets "calling bird" to mean "song bird". This could refer to any of the passerines, though most likely a canary or similar caged exotic. However, a naturalist Mike found that the original gift was one of four "colly birds", not four "calling birds". The word colly means "black as coal". Thus, the gift on the fourth day could be none other than the Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), ubiquitous in the UK. Four calling birds: $599.96 (2009).
Four Strings on Violin:|
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument. It is also the source of the Germanic "fiddle". Strings were first made of sheep gut (commonly known as catgut), or simply gut, which was stretched, dried, and twisted. The viola, cello, and double bass are also four-stringed instruments. A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier.
Four Wings on Bee|
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families. Bees have a long proboscis (a complex "tongue") that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers. They have antennae universally made up of 13 segments in males and 12 in females, as is typical for the superfamily. Bees all have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two. A bee's wing flaps 230 times/second, faster than a fruitfly (200 times/second) which is 80 times smaller.
Four Letters in Tetragrammaton:|
The sacred name of God revealed in a Tetragrammaton YHWH (Yahweh) is not pronounced in Catholic liturgy. As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and was replaced during the reading of Scripture by using an alternate name: "Adonai" which means "Lord".
Four Legs in Tables and Chairs|
Tables and chairs are furniture whose main function is stability. A table has a flat and stationary horizontal upper surface used to place objects on, for storage, or display things. Most tables are rectangular with four legs. A chair has a raised surface to sit on by one person. Chairs are most often supported by four legs and have a back. A chair without a back or arm rests is a stool. When English-speaking philosophers talk about the material world as opposed to ideas, their phrase is tables and chairs.
Four Elephants on Back of Giant Tortoise Support the Earth|
Nicolas Camille Flammarion (1842-1925) was a French astronomer and author. The engraving at left According to Hindu Belief the Earth is Supported on Elephants Standing on a Tortoise is from Flammarion's History of the Heavens (1877) "The Hindoos made the hemispherical earth to be supported upon four elephants, and the four elephants to stand on the back on an immense tortoise, which itself floated on the surface of a universal ocean. We are not however to laugh at this as intended to be literal; the elephants symbolised, it may be, the four elements, or the four directions of the compass, and the tortoise was the symbol for strength and for eternity, which was also sometimes represented by a serpernt" (pp. 238-239). The earliest citation may be found in John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) "Indian who said the world was on an elephant which was on a tortoise".
Four = 4:|
Four is the only number (4) equal to the number of letters in its English word. One (3), Two (3), Three (5), Four (4), Five (4), Six (3), Seven (5), Eight (5), Nine (4), Ten (3), Eleven (6), Twelve (6)... The same applies in German, as vier has four letters, though Spanish and Russian have cinco (five) and tri (three) respectively. The Greeks associated the number four with earthly balance. Earth, air, fire, and water were the four elements out of which everything was composed. (William Hartston, Book of Numbers, Metro, London, 1997, p. 11)
4x4 Magic Square of Jupiter:|
The 4x4 Magic Square of Jupiter has 16 squares. It was used as a talisman for good luck in the Middle Ages. First seen in European art in 1514.
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