The Mysteries of the Number Seven
Sarah and Christian both dream mysterious dreams. These dreams transport them around the corner, around the globe, and through the universe and back. They’re first cousins and best friends who plan mystery hunts every summer.
Christian’s and Sarah’s grandmother, Tata, had this same gift of prophetic dreams. She called them waking dreams because she dreamt of echoes from the future and then, suddenly, woke up.
She instructed her grandchildren to be cautious of the invisible force that would try to disrupt or stop their quests. She warned them, “This invisible force will try to frighten you, change your circumstances, alter your path, and place obstacles in your way. You were given a special gift. Use it wisely.”
Sarah and Christian were the same age. Christian resembled his dad and his Uncle Virgil, Sarah’s dad. He had dark wavy hair, deep blue-green eyes, and on most days, a half-smile. Sarah described their friendship as “not just family, but Mystery Hunters.”
The cousins were both young, but they loved math, science, astronomy, zoology, and so much more! As Sarah would say, “We love learning … to the ends of the Earth … to the depths of the seas, and beyond … to the heavens.”
Sarah enjoyed climbing tall oak trees with massive limbs she described as “powerful arms holding me in place.” She loved chasing vibrant butterflies wavering in flight and hand-painting small stones to resemble ladybugs and honey bees. Sarah often left these colorful stones attached to a handwritten poem on the steps leading up to her neighbors’ homes. She was unaware everyone knew she left these precious gifts. Her neighbors loved her for her thoughtfulness and kept her sweet secret. Sarah’s family and friends knew she was a poet at heart. She thought deeply about everyone and everything.
Christian was quieter than Sarah. He struggled to make friends in school because of his shyness. But around Sarah, their families, and their two friends, ____________________ and _____________________, he was confident and happy. Christian rarely had a good night’s sleep. As he described himself, “My brain never stops, and I can’t sleep through the night. Even when I’m sleeping, my dreams keep me busy.” Christian enjoyed constructing and flying unique kites. He and his dad designed and built colorful kites shaped like spirals, triangles, stars, planets, and wheels within wheels. They made butterfly kites for Sarah.
Sarah and Christian shared their love for mystery hunts, thin-crust pepperoni pizza, kite flying, apple crisp pie, and dreaming.
Christian loved playing with his dog Ferlinghetti, a black and white sheepdog with a lazy eye. His mother named Ferlinghetti after a famous poet and painter. Ferlinghetti loved to run, and a few times, he ran away. They always found him near the small dog park, next to the Ross Family Community Park. Christian’s dad always remarked with a half-smile, “Ferlinghetti ran away to search for a new name.”
Ferlinghetti loved to peer through the wooden fence at his best friends, Chamomile, a tiny white Bichon Frise puppy, and Lex, a soft brown German shepherd. Lex was a loyal dog with an amusing grin. Chamomile’s bark was bigger than her bite, and though small, she was deeply protective of Lex and Ferlinghetti. She didn’t walk; she strutted with extraordinary confidence.
It was summer, and the two cousins enjoyed planning their mystery hunts under Sarah’s gigantic apple tree in her backyard while eating apple crisp pie with a tall glass of ice-cold milk. The tree provided shade from the summer heat and dropped gifts of delicious Honeycrisp apples with a hint of summer yellow until the end of September. Sarah scooped up 28 apples at a time, and she and her Tata baked her grandmother’s prize-winning sweet and tart brown sugar apple crisp pie every fall. Tata always baked seven pies at a time and gifted them to family and neighbors.
Christian said, “My favorite season is summer, flying kites, a break from school, and we can spend time on our mystery hunts.”
Sarah said, “My favorite season is autumn, but summer is a close second.”
Sarah stood in her backyard the evening before and gazed at the summer night sky, which glittered with luminous lights that overwhelmed her. She said, “The stars sparkled as if God threw diamonds on deep black velvet.”
Christian smiled and thought, “Sarah, always the poet.”
“I tried counting the stars, but I saw hundreds and hundreds.” Sarah continued, “I counted to 77 and was so sleepy, I walked upstairs to my bedroom. As soon as I put my head on my butterfly pillow, I fell asleep, and I dreamt of moving stars in the heavens with my fingertips. I saw a silver moon floating high in the sky. I moved 77 stars, like puzzle pieces. As I moved the stars, their outline created an image. The shape reminded me of a country or continent. Then I was on the ground. I looked to the stars for direction and warmth, but I was lost. I was afraid I might be lost forever. Something was trying to stop me from moving forward. Then I woke up. I was ice cold, even though my bedroom was warm. I’ve had dreams of castles in the sky, butterflies, and other things, but I’m not sure they have anything to do with a mystery hunt.”
“They might. Tata and a few of her sisters and brothers had these waking dreams. I remember Tata warned us to be careful. Her family warned her about an invisible force, always trying to stop her from helping others,” Christian said.
“I know,” Sarah said. “Maybe Tata’s just warning us, so we’ll be careful. She wouldn’t tell us much about this invisible force. She loves telling stories, so maybe she just made it up.”
Christian half-smiled. “I don’t think Tata would make up something like that. I’ll keep my eyes open for the invisible force. Get it? How can I keep my eyes open for something I can’t see?”
Sarah rolled her eyes and smiled.
Christian paused, and continued, “Well, let’s meet with __________________ and _________________. I promised they could join us on our mystery hunts.”
The two cousins began walking to the park to meet their two friends, _____________________ and ________________________.
________________________ was only an inch taller than Christian. _______ loved to _________________, ____________, and __________. ____________’s hair color was ___________. ____ eyes were ______. ______ parents were of ______________ and ___________ nationalities, and _____ resembled _______________________________________. _______ revealed ______________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Both went to school with Sarah and Christian, and the four friends shared their love of adventures and solving mysteries.
____________________________ was as tall as Christian. ________ loved to ___________, ____________, and __________. ___ hair color was ___________. ____ eyes were ______. ____ parents were of _____________ and ___________ nationalities.
______ revealed _______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________ ran up to Christian, excited and out of breath, “Did you hear? Professor Septenary’s missing! He’s the Mathematics Professor at Heptad University, where Sarah’s sister goes to college. He didn’t show up for the summer class he was teaching on Friday. The Professor never missed teaching a class!”
Christian asked, “Where could he have gone?”
_______________________ said, “I’m not sure. It was even on the news today. No one’s heard from or seen the Professor since he left the college campus on Friday.”
Sarah looked at Christian and asked, “Why don’t we help?”
Christian said, “Great idea! _______________________ and _______________________, do you want to go along for the adventure?”
_______________________ said, “That would be great!”
The four friends visited Sarah’s older sister. Olivia had large blue eyes and silky golden blonde hair. Sarah had sparkling dark brown eyes and curly light brown hair. Sometimes she straightened her hair to match her sister’s. Olivia was seven years older and stood a shoulder above Sarah. They were both lovely, and other than their height, hair, and eye colors; they were virtually identical.
Sarah said, “We’re going to try to help in the search for Professor Septenary.”
“Great! This will be your first major mystery hunt!” Olivia said. “We need everyone’s help to find him. Professor Septenary’s a great Mathematics teacher, and he’s my mentor. I’m so worried about him. He loves math as much as we do. We all call him Professor ‘S’. He’s teaching us two of the most difficult math problems in the world.
“_____________________ proved Fermat’s Last Theorem, in 1995. He locked himself away for seven years to solve this math problem. Professor S, along with many other Mathematicians, is working on the second most difficult Math problem, Riemann’s Hypothesis, which includes zeta, the __________ letter of the Greek alphabet with a value of 7. Pythagoras, a famous mathematician, believed seven is the most spiritual and perfect number in the universe. The Professor was fascinated with this number and told our class he was working on the mysteries of the number seven. The first trip he told us about was to the continent of Antarctica.”
_______________________ asked Olivia, “Could the Professor be somewhere searching for answers?”
Olivia said, “I’m not sure. He told us the number seven has many meanings in many cultures and many religions. I’m worried about him. He’s not the type of person to stop communicating with friends or not show up for class. He wouldn’t want to worry anyone.”
The friends left Sarah’s home and walked to the library to research more information on the number seven, and Professor S.
____________________ suggested, “Christian, we’ll look up information on Professor S. You and Sarah could research any clues on where the Professor might have traveled on his quest.”
“Great idea!” Christian said. He pointed to an area of the library. “There are four computers next to that enormous table and the section on continents. We can research Antarctica and the South Pole.”
The friends sat at the computers and typed.
___________________ said, “I found information on Professor S. The Professor’s been writing stories of his adventures in an online journal, The Mysteries of the Number Seven. He wrote he would be taking short trips around the world. He dated his first entry last September when he visited Antarctica.”
Sarah said, “This is our first lead! We can read his online journal to discover where he was, and discover where he might be.”
The friends read the Professor’s online entry.
My name is Stefan Septenary. I’m a professor of Mathematics at Heptad University in the United States, and I began this journey on September 15th, the day after my 76th birthday. I’ll continue to search our world, and the seven continents, on the mysteries of the number seven. Today, the first day of my adventure, I traveled to the continent of Antarctica. The average temperature at the South Pole is -49 degrees Celsius, equally divided by 7, 7 times! Approximately seventy percent of the world’s fresh water supply is in Antarctica and Greenland’s ice sheets.
There are so many interesting facts on the continent of Antarctica. When visiting the South Pole, all locations are north. For _____ months of the year, the sun never rises, and it never sets. The sun is above the horizon in the summer and below the horizon in the winter. The Southern Ocean, surrounding Antarctica, is composed of the southern parts of the Pacific, _______________, and the Indian Oceans.
Antarctica is frigid and isolated. A group of Israeli scientists invited me to stay a few days at their research facility. There are seven scientists at this camp! I’m grateful for their invitation. We shared a delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup and warm, freshly baked bread with sweet, creamy butter. I was famished, and this meal, and my new friendships, warmed me inside and out. Professor Noah Zayin, a scientist and fellow mathematician, sat with me for a few hours. We enjoyed mugs of hot chocolate and discussed his research, my journey, and several facts on Antarctica and the South Pole.
I took a short walk to look at the night sky. I was still unfamiliar with the landscape, and as I walked over an icy patch, I heard a small cracking sound and began to slip. For a minute, I thought I saw someone. I must have seen a shadow. I’m glad I didn’t reach out to grab him because just then, the ice in front of me began to crack. I switched on my flashlight, and there was a small body of water. It was a close call. Professor Zayin remarked I shouldn’t go out without one of the researchers. He reminded me how treacherous Antarctica could be. I’ll continue writing tomorrow after I rest tonight.
Christian and Sarah walked behind one of the towering bookshelves. Christian whispered, “Sarah, remember your dream from last night? You moved 77 stars with your fingertips, and this image reminded you of a country or continent, and you were cold!”
Sarah whispered, “But Professor S wasn’t lost. He traveled to other continents and is missing now. His online journal connects my waking dream to his trip to Antarctica, but I’ve never met him!”
Christian said, “We should meet with someone at the university to find out if they knew he was making these short trips. We can come back to the library later this week.”
The next day, the four friends visited with Professor Isabella Hebdomad, the Mathematics Department Chair at Heptad University. She met with the friends in her office most of the morning.
“Please call me Professor Isabella. I’ve known Professor S for 14 years. He’s a fantastic instructor and has great admiration for his students, and his students have great respect and admiration for him. The Professor’s skilled at many things and speaks seven languages. He’s an experienced outdoorsman. His favorite quote is by John Muir, ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.’ Someone changed this quote to read, ‘When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.’ Professor S believes our connections to each other are threads on a beautiful tapestry. Each color and each thread are essential to create the image. Everyone at the university is aware of his fascination with the connections of the number seven.”
Professor Isabella paused for a minute and continued, “Professor S mentioned he liked to travel on his vacation time and holidays. He told me once he liked to leave clues, or ‘breadcrumbs’ on the continents he’d visited. I’ve always enjoyed his humor, so I’m sure he was referencing the book Hansel and Gretel, the German fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm. It’s a story about a brother and sister who dropped breadcrumbs to find their way home.
“But now that he’s missing, this could be significant. He’s never missed a class in the twenty years he’s been teaching at our university. He was planning on retiring this year. Just like him retiring when he turns 77 after teaching here for 21 years. Everyone at the university is hoping he’ll be found safe and in good health.”
Christian said, “We hope we can help. We discovered his online journal, and he was in Antarctica this past September. Do you have a photo of the Professor?”
Professor Isabella said, “Yes. Here are two photographs of him on our university website. We appreciate any help in locating him and bringing him home. Sarah, your sister Olivia described how you and your cousin are planning on solving mysteries during your summer vacations. I have great confidence that everything will turn out well.”
Sarah smiled, looking at the photo of Professor S. “He has a kind face. He looks strong and healthy. The Professor’s outdoor experience and good health are both important while traveling around the world. We should memorize these pictures to identify him in any online photos. He looks tall, over six feet. In one photo, he’s wearing wire-rimmed round spectacles with a blue tint. He has brown, greying hair and a mustache.
“The Professor could’ve shaved off his mustache. In the other photo, his eyes are crystal blue, and he has a warm smile. I’m sure his fascination with the number seven is the reason for his travels! Sometimes we begin searching for one answer, only to uncover other mysteries with more questions than answers.”
Christian smiled and whispered to himself, “Sarah, always the poet.”
The friends left the college campus.
The next morning at the library, ________________ opened the laptop and the friends continued to read the Professor’s journal.
Today is my second day at the South Pole, on the continent of Antarctica. While it’s freezing, I’m enjoying this magnificent landscape. Professor Noah mentioned there are over 70 bases in Antarctica. I’ve seen what reminds me of large, dark sparkling seeds scattered in the white, frozen snow and ice throughout this stunning region. Professor Noah and I removed two of these black objects. He explained they’re meteorites frozen in ice. Professor Noah mentioned that it’s easier to find meteorites in Antarctica because they are dark against white ice and snow.
We walked against the piercing wind, the icy breath of winter still clinging to my skin. This wind has a voice of its own. It’s as if this land challenges me to leave and abandon my search. I whispered back, “I will stay, I will search, I will dream, I will continue, I will return, I will go, I will discover.” I’m amazed at how the number seven or multiplications of seven surround me.
When we arrived back at the base camp, Professor Noah shared his concerns for the continent. A handful of countries have laid claim to parts of Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 by twelve nations, protects the continent from such claims and all nations’ rights to study this unique part of our world.
Christian said, “There are many connections with the number seven in Antarctica. Now I understand why Professor S was so interested in traveling there.”
Sarah suggested, “We should keep reading his online journals. We’re learning amazing facts about Antarctica and the South Pole. Why don’t we look up information on Antarctica?”
__________________ read from a book on the continents. “There are 4900 to 5000 people who temporarily live or visit Antarctica each year. We consider this continent a ______________ because so little rain falls from the sky. Seasons in Antarctica are the opposite of much of the rest of our world. March through September is winter.”
“Wow!” _____________________ said. “Professor S was there during a winter month, in the coldest place on Earth! ____________________________, will you keep reading?”
“NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has used areas of the Antarctica to test space equipment because the weather and environmental conditions are so similar to the planet Mars. They call Antarctica the White Continent because of the snow and ice covering this region of the world.”
The friends continued to research facts on the continent and the mysteries of the number seven. They agreed to meet at Sarah’s house the next morning.
It was a warm day with a light breeze and a clear sky. Olivia and Sarah were eating breakfast in their kitchen with the windows open.
Olivia asked, “Have you learned anything new about Professor S and his trips around the world?”
Sarah said, “We found his online journal, and he was in Antarctica this past September. We met with Professor Isabella at the college, and she was really helpful. Did you know Professor S speaks seven languages?”
“Yeah, he speaks English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Farsi or the Persian language.”
“Does he enjoy camping? Professor Isabella told us Professor S loves the outdoors.”
“Yeah, he told us he loved camping, mountain climbing, boating, swimming, and hiking. Why are you asking?”
“It helps in my research,” Sarah said. “He visited Antarctica during one of the coldest months of the year. He has survival skills. He might need those skills to keep himself safe!”
The doorbell rang. Sarah opened her front door. Christian, ___________________, and __________________ said hello. Sarah invited her friends into the kitchen and said, “We have plenty of fruit salad and bagels with cream cheese, please help yourselves.”
Christian said, “Thanks, but we had an early breakfast.”
_____________________ asked, “Could I have a glass of orange juice?”
Olivia smiled and said, “Well, belly up to the juice bar, the orange juice is on me!”
Everyone smiled, and Olivia poured three glasses of orange juice.
____________________ said, “What’s the plan today? Are we going back to the library?”
“Not today,” Sarah said. “We should visit the planetarium. I want to learn facts on latitude and longitude. We’ll ask someone at the planetarium to locate the Israeli research station at the South Pole. It could give us clues to help find Professor S. I’m hoping an astronomer will teach us how to find locations around the world using latitude and longitude.”
_____________________ added, “We studied latitude and longitude in school. A circle has 360 degrees, and we can divide the Earth into 360 degrees. There are now GPS or ____________ ___________________ _________________. These are satellites in space that provide coordinates in latitude and longitude for addresses on Earth. Professor Halley Maia’s one of the lead astronomers at the planetarium. I’ll call her and see if we can meet with her today. She’s a friend of my parents.”
“Thank you,” Christian said. “Let’s walk to the planetarium.”
Olivia walked them to the door. “If you need a ride back, call me. It might rain later.”
As the friends walked into the planetarium, Professor Maia was waiting by the front door. “Hello, it’s good to see you. Please follow me, and I can review latitude and longitude,” she said with a smile.
The friends thanked the Professor. The large auditorium was dark at first, and then Professor Maia switched on the Planetarium’s IMAX Theater program. She turned on the 3D display, but it didn’t work.
Puzzled, Professor Maia said, “I just turned it on ten minutes ago. It was working perfectly. This hasn’t happened to me before. Hold on a second. I’m going to call the technician.”
The friends walked around the auditorium and looked at pamphlets on the tables while they waited.
The technician began working on the equipment. The friends overheard him say to the Professor, “This is weird. Someone or something pulled out a few wire connections.”
“But I just turned it on before the kids arrived. I was only away from it for a few minutes,” Professor Maia said.
The technician shrugged and said, “Oh well, it’s working now.”
“Thanks,” Professor Maia said.
The photos on the 700-meter curved screen transported the friends into space. They marveled at the images of the stars, constellations, planets, moon, and sun.
______________________ said to Professor Maia, “You watch our world and the heavens every day! Your job is amazing!”
Professor Maia smiled. “I enjoy my job. It’s a perfect fit for me. Let me use our GPS to explain latitude and longitude. Please give me any address, I’ll enter the information, and you’ll see the location on the screen.”
Christian asked, “Are you able to find the South Pole?”
Professor Maia nodded. The GPS located the South Pole at -90° N, 0°E, or 90° S, 0°E. “Latitude measures degrees running east and west, from left to right. Longitude measures degrees running north and south, or top to bottom. The Equator is 0 degrees latitude, while the Prime Meridian, in ___________________, __________________, is 0 degrees longitude.”
Christian said, “Professor Septenary was visiting Antarctica and the South Pole this past September. He wrote about his experiences in an online journal. His first journal described his visit with an Israeli Research Team at the South Pole.”
“I heard Professor S was missing. We can provide a satellite image of the Israeli’s camp.”
Professor Maia entered the latitude and longitude calculations, and they could see the satellite image of a building and two human figures standing outside in the ice and snow.
_______________________ said, “We can see where he stayed and can contact Professor Noah. Is there any way to bring up photos of the site from several months ago?”
Professor Maia answered, “Yes, but we’d need to apply to the government for permission. The Professor left Antarctica to continue his journey, so I don’t think it will help.”
“I have an idea,” ____________________ said. “Why don’t we try to reach Professor Zayin by contacting the US Research Station? We learned about it in geography class. The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Scientific Station is at the southernmost region on Earth. Professor S is a US citizen. They might help.”
Professor Maia said, “What a wonderful idea! If the four of you follow me to my office, I’ll give you the station’s email and mailing addresses. I suggest you send two letters, one to the US Station and one to Professor Zayin at the Israeli Experimental Station. It isn’t easy to reach them by phone and email, depending on the weather. So, a letter may be the best way to contact them if you’re not in a hurry.”
The friends followed her down a long hall with hundreds of framed photos of galaxies, stars, planets, and our moon and sun. Professor Maia gave Christian the mailing address for the South Pole post office:
South Pole Station
PSC 768 Box 400
APO AP 96598
The friends thanked Professor Maia.
Sarah called Olivia for a ride home.
Olivia picked up the team. They were excited to tell Olivia about their day at the planetarium and their plans to mail letters to the South Pole.
“You’re amazing!” Olivia said. “I bet you’ve found more information than anyone. I’m sure Professor S will come home, safe and sound. He’ll appreciate everything you’re doing to find him.”
After dinner, Sarah and Christian wrote a letter to Professor Noah Zayin, at the Israeli Research Station, in the South Pole, and sent a copy of the letter to the US Research Station.
Dear Prof. Zayin,
We’re assisting in the search for Professor Septenary. He left the university where he taught Mathematics a short time ago. No one can reach him, and no one has heard from him. The Professor wrote in his online journal that he stayed with your research team this past September. The Mathematics Department Chair informed us that he left clues, or as he called them, breadcrumbs, on his travels. We’re hoping you can help us. Did he leave anything with you or leave something behind at your research station? Did Professor S share his plans with you? We’ve included our names, cellphone numbers, home, and email addresses. Please contact us if you have more information, or if he contacts you.
Thank you for your help,
Sarah & Christian
Christian and Sarah walked to the post office and mailed both letters.
Christian said, “I hope this letter reaches Professor Zayin, and he’ll help us. Scientists only live at the South Pole for a few months. I’m not sure Professor Noah is still there.”
Sarah said, “We can keep researching the continents of the world and any connections to the number seven. Other people are looking for Professor S, so maybe we should call the police and let them know what we discovered. These mysteries are like puzzle pieces. The more pieces, the more the picture or answer comes into focus.”
A week went by, and both Sarah and Christian continued to check their emails, cellphone messages, and mail. The four friends met every day to discuss any other clues.
_____________________ emailed a screenshot of the Professor’s journal to the team. Professor S had created a timestamp and upload date for his journals. They looked forward to the next online entry.
The next morning, Christian knocked on Sarah’s door. Sarah opened the door, and Christian said, “I got a letter from Professor Zayin! I haven’t opened it because I thought we should all be together when we read the letter.”
Sarah called _____________________ and _____________________, and asked them to come to her house.
_____________________ said, “We’re here. Let’s read the letter.”
Dear Sarah and Christian,
Thank you for your letter. The Professor and I became close friends. We were notified by your local police that Professor S went missing. We are all concerned here. I’ve enclosed an envelope he left behind with me. The Professor contacted me a few weeks after he left our research station. He asked me to hang on to an object he left behind until he returned home. I planned on shipping it to the US, but I haven’t heard from him. He did instruct me to mail a note if and when I was contacted by a girl or boy from the states. I enclosed his note for you. I hope one of you can decipher the clues. He and I discussed his fascination with the number seven and how it was significant in science, and religious and cultural beliefs, worldwide. Good luck! Please contact me if I can be of further assistance. We’ll keep the Professor in our thoughts and prayers.
My best wishes to you,
Professor Noah Zayin
Sarah unfolded the note and read, “My love of prime … taking my time, in every zone, looking forward to coming home. Seven … continents, wonders, seas … it is important to follow me. What is closest to my heart? Look South for a second start.”