Pokémon: the numbers

I love maths (as most of you will know by now) and I also love Pokémon (as some of you will also know), so I’ve decided to combine the two into a new project called Pokémaths. I’ll be doing the maths to answer such questions as: how many Pikachus does it take to power a lightbulb? How many calories would a Charizard need to eat every day to survive? And would Squirtle actually float?

But before I get to these important questions, let’s first talk numbers, specifically numbers of Pokémon. There are a LOT of Pokémon these days – 802 to be exact – and where better than to start with the original and best: Red and Blue. I’m a 90’s kid (though technically I was born in the 80’s which does mean Calvin Harris has love for me) and so I spent far too much of my childhood playing the original Pokémon – I was Red in case you asked. This first generation had 150 Pokémon for you to catch (or was it 151… did anyone ever find Mew?) and they ranged from everyone’s favourite little yellow mouse Pikachu to a big pink blob called Ditto.

The second instalment came with Pokémon Silver and Gold which brought with them exactly 100 new Pokémon. Most of them were still animal based, but there are a few more original ones… including some numbers! The Pokémon Unown (below) could take the form of any of the 26 letters of the alphabet, a question mark or an exclamation mark. So whilst not quite being a number itself, you can certainly collect a few of them together in your team to spell out O-N-E or T-W-O or T-H-R-E-E or F-O-U-R or…. I think you get the picture.

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Generation three meant another 134 new Pokémon, this time as part of the games Ruby and Sapphire, taking the total number to 386. Judging by the naming convention the Pokémon Company clearly put all of their creative effort into creating new Pokémon rather than naming the games… Some of my favourite Pokémon appeared in this generation – take Ludicolo for example, he’s basically a frog wearing a poncho and a sombrero. And don’t forget about Porygon-Z, the fully-evolved form of Porygon, who was one of the original 150. Porygon is great because it’s basically a 3D maths shape and also a play-on-words of polygon, which means any flat shape with at least three straight sides and angles.

Next up were Pokémon Diamond and Pearl – the first step away from colours – hooray! Though they will be back shortly. This generation introduced another 107 new Pokémon and they start to get really freaky… Take Drifloon for example. It’s a balloon. With a face. And a cloud for hair, obviously.

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For generation five we go back to colours, naturally, with Pokémon Black and White. These games were the first since the original ones to introduce a full 150 brand new Pokémon, plus 6 bonus special edition ones. With such pressure comes inspiration – or at least I assume that was the plan. A Pokémon that’s a pile of garbage called Trubbish? Or a candle called Litwick? Really? Let’s just make all inanimate objects into Pokémon… oh, wait they did that. Generation six brought us Pokémon X and Y (another step away from colours, well done Nintendo) and with them came the Pokémon Klefki. This is a set of keys with a face. Its either genius or madness, you decide…

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Generation six gave us 72 new Pokémon, taking the total up to a whacking great 721. Creating that many original characters is quite the feat, even if we have ice cream cones with faces… Vanillite I’m looking at you. The final installation came late last year with another non-colour-named set: Pokémon Sun and Moon. They were released to mark 20 years since the original games – wow, I’m old. The latest instalment brings us 81 new Pokémon giving a final total of 802. That’s 802 unique, original, entirely fictional characters. It’s seriously impressive (despite my complaints).

My plan with Pokémaths is to pick the most interesting and exciting Pokémon (obviously there a lot) and do some maths with them. It will combine my two favourite things and hopefully show you that maths can be used for absolutely ANYTHING. It’ll be fun too – after all who doesn’t want to know how much weight a Machamp can bench press?

 

For my interview with Biologist Matan Shelomi – the creator of the Pokémon evolution tree – click here. To check out the tree he created with real science click here.

 

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