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(io9)   "The fact that we build our number system around ten is an evolutionary fluke - five-fingered hands go right back to some of the very first organisms to emerge from the ocean"   (io9.com) divider line 113
    More: Interesting, oceans, number systems, Paleolithic, decimals, splitting, existence, binary codes  
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4463 clicks; posted to Geek » on 18 Feb 2012 at 5:59 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-02-18 12:18:39 AM
I'm a little unsure. Magic numbers in the Bible were 3,4, 12 and 40.
 
2012-02-18 12:38:18 AM
If you help me with my twelves, I'll help you with your tens, and we can all be friends, little twelve toes.

/Please come back.
 
2012-02-18 01:21:45 AM
6 multiplied by 9 is 42 in base13. Just think about that a while..
 
2012-02-18 02:04:13 AM
It always makes me wonder... how did the Romans do multiplication?

XVIII * LXIV = ??
 
2012-02-18 04:09:18 AM
Not everyone has used a base ten sytem.
 
2012-02-18 05:08:13 AM

WhyteRaven74: Not everyone has used a base ten sytem.


True enough. Our time keeping is base 60, sort of.
 
2012-02-18 06:14:48 AM

EvilEgg: WhyteRaven74: Not everyone has used a base ten sytem.

True enough. Our time keeping is base 60, sort of.


Actually it's base 7/24/60/60/1000. After weeks it's arbitrary and nonstandardized.
 
2012-02-18 06:27:35 AM
So THATS why my guinea pigs use base 8.
 
2012-02-18 06:35:06 AM
I used to have a cat who counted by base 32.

I miss you, Six Paw. You magnificently derpy kitty you.

i243.photobucket.com
/artist rendering
 
2012-02-18 06:36:58 AM
I don't buy it.
In theory it could just as easily have been base 5, 15 or 20 but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly. We've been doing it too long and regularly for another system to make sense.

As for 10 base time... well, they came along too late with that.
Problem being that the universe itself was apparently arbitrary for a long time before we understood anything.
The year rolls by in roughly 12 lunar cycles, precipitating a 12 hour day. The second probably was decided around an average heartbeat or something else meaningful at the time.
People aren't going to give up everything they know just to standardize for a nice even number.

Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.
 
2012-02-18 06:37:33 AM
Actually base 8 or base 16 would have been better. We'd have had computers much earlier.
 
2012-02-18 06:41:29 AM

way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.


It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.
 
2012-02-18 06:44:35 AM
the traditional pig ear nothing system uses base 3. base 3 is visually appealing. your mind can directly understand the difference between 0 and 1, 1 and 2, but after that must count. pigs are very difficult to get to quit moving around in a pen when you walk among them. you need something that can be caught by the eye and not counted. so the way this system works is you notch each ear. the one ear has "litter number" and the other ear stands for "pig number". so if it's the 8th pig of the 14th litter that year then 8 can be simply represented by 2 notches near the middle of the ear (6) and 2 notches near the bottom (2) and position on the ear then has place value. If you need 9 or more then of course the top of the ear is used. 1 notch near the top is 9. 11 is 1, 1, 1 in top, middle, and lower. etc. you never have more than say about 15 little pigs in a litter so that works just fine. in a traditional farm you would normally only have a few sows so you don't need a big number for litter number but you can see by the pic that you can easily accommodate a couple hundred litters in a year. You eat pigs before they get a year old so year is never an issue.
elkhorn.unl.edu
 
2012-02-18 06:44:57 AM

Counter_Intelligent: way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.


Then howescome my brain can multiply anything by ten. My brain has no early evolutionary fingers.

/ if it were 13 based, could you still tell me what 3A43 times 1C is real fast?
// crap.... I guess you could.... carry on.
 
2012-02-18 06:45:17 AM
ear NOTCHING.
 
2012-02-18 06:47:30 AM
oh my it's too early. i can't do base 3 math. 111 is not 11 in base 3, it's 13.
 
2012-02-18 06:56:42 AM

Counter_Intelligent: way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.


Exactly. I we had developed a hexadecimal system and had used it for millenia and perhaps had 8 fingers on each hand to facilitate that we would think 16 was a nice round number (and (decimal)2 * (decimal)16 would equal a nice round (hexadecimal) 20 in our number system.
 
2012-02-18 07:28:14 AM

Happy Hours: Counter_Intelligent: way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.

Exactly. I we had developed a hexadecimal system and had used it for millenia and perhaps had 8 fingers on each hand to facilitate that we would think 16 was a nice round number (and (decimal)2 * (decimal)16 would equal a nice round (hexadecimal) 20 in our number system.


dl.dropbox.com

...Right, so we aren't switching from 10 base.

/We just need to find an eight fingered alien that counts in tens to prove why we shouldn't.
 
2012-02-18 07:38:03 AM

The Onion is prophetic: It always makes me wonder... how did the Romans do multiplication?

XVIII * LXIV = ??


They were very adept with using an abacus
 
2012-02-18 07:40:18 AM
Wheeled chairs have five wheels for stability, because with four in a cross pattern there is very good chance of tipping over if weight distribution shifts. Therefore chairs evolved to support our fat butts.
 
2012-02-18 07:47:55 AM

way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.


It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.
 
2012-02-18 08:07:53 AM

The Onion is prophetic: It always makes me wonder... how did the Romans do multiplication?

XVIII * LXIV = ??


You can easily multiply 18 by 64 in your head?
 
2012-02-18 08:21:43 AM

simplicimus: I'm a little unsure. Magic numbers in the Bible were 3,4, 12 and 40.


And our clock has 12 numbers -- the reason is because some cultures count the knuckles on their 4 fingers -- giving you a base of 12.
 
2012-02-18 08:48:35 AM

Splish: The Onion is prophetic: It always makes me wonder... how did the Romans do multiplication?

XVIII * LXIV = ??

You can easily multiply 18 by 64 in your head?


Yes.

18 * 64
= 128 + 16 * 64
= 128 + 2^4 * 2^6
= 128 + 2^10
= 128 + 1024
= 1152

Go go powers of 2. Maybe not "easy", but certainly doable without breaking out the calculator or pencil and paper.

CSB: Yesterday I was at a sub shop where the register was down. I placed my order which turned out to be $8 even. I handed the cashier a twenty and she immediately broke out her iPhone and carefully typed in 20 - 8 before handing me my change. I weep for the future.
 
2012-02-18 08:48:45 AM

DerAppie: way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.

It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.


While what I'm about to say probably isn't entirely historically accurate or provable, it's my take on how it happened.

Inch is to the first knuckle, if I recall. The foot is, was, the foot. Cubit or yard was about an arm length, a pound is probably a handful of sand and so on.
When in doubt about how long the foot should be, wouldn't the answer be to use a standard foot?
Say, the kings foot is the official "foot" of measure. His body is the tie breaker as he is the sovereign that will be deciding anyway.

Time goes on, kings being kings want their own measure since there is no "standard" king. Due to vanity and politics, the measures get exaggerated.
The ruling king will always say he has a very big... feet, you see.

Eventually that no longer works with a large kingdom and everyone sits down to make a standard foot based on whatever the average turned out to be.
Not perfect, but it was based on something that seemed sensible at the time.

No one understood how far light traveled in a vacuum or how the boiling point of water changed at altitude. Replicating metric require a scientist, and in ancient times it would seem arbitrary compared to a human body based measure.

If Bob is king, Bob is the standard. He is far more accessible than an astrolabe to a peasant farmer.
 
2012-02-18 08:50:07 AM
Would like a word:
www.decentfilms.com
 
2012-02-18 08:58:53 AM

Happy Hours: Counter_Intelligent: way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.

Exactly. I we had developed a hexadecimal system and had used it for millenia and perhaps had 8 fingers on each hand to facilitate that we would think 16 was a nice round number (and (decimal)2 * (decimal)16 would equal a nice round (hexadecimal) 20 in our number system.


Yep. I managed to painfully slog through "Battlefield Earth" until the passage that explained that the base 10 system is inherently superior to all other numerical systems in the universe because computation is so much easier and clean. That was the final straw for me, and I've never bothered to finish the book. The rest of the book might be a masterpiece of human literature, but I guess I'll never experience it.
 
2012-02-18 09:17:09 AM

Parthenogenetic: Happy Hours: Counter_Intelligent: way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

It adds and multiplies cleanly only because of a base 10 system.

Exactly. I we had developed a hexadecimal system and had used it for millenia and perhaps had 8 fingers on each hand to facilitate that we would think 16 was a nice round number (and (decimal)2 * (decimal)16 would equal a nice round (hexadecimal) 20 in our number system.

Yep. I managed to painfully slog through "Battlefield Earth" until the passage that explained that the base 10 system is inherently superior to all other numerical systems in the universe because computation is so much easier and clean. That was the final straw for me, and I've never bothered to finish the book. The rest of the book might be a masterpiece of human literature, but I guess I'll never experience it.


It read it cover to cover... It was good, but not particularly great.
That particular section I just glossed over, since it seemed annoyingly complicated.

One of the big advantages for going metric is to get rid of a twelve base system. Maybe this is exacly the of five fingered bias the article is talking about, But I don't see going from ten to twelve as being anything but more hoops added to simple calculations.
 
2012-02-18 09:19:30 AM
www.lucylearns.com

Yeah, nothing but base10 math. Never been anything anywhere but base10 math.
 
2012-02-18 09:23:33 AM

Splish: The Onion is prophetic: It always makes me wonder... how did the Romans do multiplication?

XVIII * LXIV = ??

You can easily multiply 18 by 64 in your head?


I didn't see the "in your head" stipulation in the original post.

/because it's not there.
//I can multiply 18 by 64 in my head in about the time it would take me to figure out that XVIII * LXIV means 18 * 64
 
2012-02-18 09:26:15 AM

brandent: in a traditional farm you would normally only have a few sows so you don't need a big number for litter number but you can see by the pic that you can easily accommodate a couple hundred litters in a year. You eat pigs before they get a year old so year is never an issue.


I have seen pigs with swiss cheese ears by the end of the year on my families farm. But, we usually have around 10 new litters every two weeks, so that is about 260 litters a year. (Sows are on a 5 week birth-wean cycle, with a week to clean out the birthing crates and get new ones in)

/surprised somebody else on Fark knows the pig ear notch system.
 
2012-02-18 09:32:05 AM

herrDrFarkenstein: [www.lucylearns.com image 282x280]

Yeah, nothing but base10 math. Never been anything anywhere but base10 math.


Wouldn't it be easier tho?
Instead of thinking "24 hours in a day, 72 hours is three days, times seven days is... ZOMG, MATH!!", you could be saying "ten, twenty, thirty, three days. Hundred hours to a week".

A ten day week is a shiatty schedule, but it IS easy to calculate.
 
2012-02-18 09:38:38 AM

way south: 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly.

media.247sports.com
 
2012-02-18 09:40:13 AM
Uh.. I can count to 144 on my fingers... shouldn't we use a base 144 system then?
 
2012-02-18 09:45:01 AM
Except our horological systems are all base 12- twelve months to the year, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour 60 seconds in a minute, and it appears that this practice dates all the way back to the first known city on earth, Ur. Now is that because A) the UR people were all cousin-farkers with enhanced banjo-playing abilities? B) that the palm of the hand was counted as a digit? or C) cue that Centuari-looking guy from the History channel?
 
2012-02-18 09:45:20 AM

DerAppie: way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.

It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.


As I recall, the standards for imperial measures were based not on the average, but on the king's measurements. They'd then become standard among the plebians - "close enough" for an eyeball's inspection - and no one really cared because unless you were an alchemist (or maybe a merchant or money-changer) you really didn't care if that length of rope that the other guy calls a foot is actually 1 foot 2 inches by your experience.
 
2012-02-18 09:47:38 AM
Also, in before timecube.
 
2012-02-18 09:56:10 AM
Given enough time I could use my fingers to count to google-plex. Ergo, we are in base google-plex.
 
2012-02-18 09:57:13 AM

way south: DerAppie: way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.

It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.

While what I'm about to say probably isn't entirely historically accurate or provable, it's my take on how it happened.

Inch is to the first knuckle, if I recall. The foot is, was, the foot. Cubit or yard was about an arm length, a pound is probably a handful of sand and so on.
When in doubt about how long the foot should be, wouldn't the answer be to use a standard foot?
Say, the kings foot is the official "foot" of measure. His body is the tie breaker as he is the sovereign that will be deciding anyway.

Time goes on, kings being kings want their own measure since there is no "standard" king. Due to vanity and politics, the measures get exaggerated.
The ruling king will always say he has a very big... feet, you see.

Eventually that no longer works with a large kingdom and everyone sits down to make a standard foot based on whatever the average turned out to be.
Not perfect, but it was based on something that seemed sensible at the time.

No one understood how far light traveled in a vacuum or how the boiling point of water changed at altitude. Replicating metric require a scientist, and in ancient times it would seem arbitrary compared to a human body based measu ...


You still haven't answered my question. Which set of measurements is inherently useful to people? The foot might once have been based on an actual foot, but getting 10 persons together I can reasonably expect to have feet from anywhere between 25 en 35 centimeters in length. If I use the average as you said, how is that meaningful to the people on either end of the scale? I would have a 0.85 foot foot and a 1.18 inch inch. I'd love to see how I could use that in any meaningful way without carrying a pen and paper with me everywhere.

Let's pretend I'm a tailor. You want a piece of clothing you intend to gift to someone. Because it is supposed to be a surprise you hand me with a note with the required measurements. Based on the information I provided about my inches/feet the garnment will either be too large (inseam of X inches if I use my thumb) or too small (inseam of X foot when I use my foot) depending on what you wrote down. We'll get even more room for error if I calculated an inch based on my foot or I calculated the foot based on my inch. And if you were in the habit of using your own thumb/foot as a measure of length since it is so inherently meaningful, we could have some fun during a first fitting.

At some point you have to set a standard, and that standard will always be arbitrary to 99% of the people. Therefore the meter is no more meaningless than a foot, but the metric system does have an advantage of simplicity. 10 mm to a cm, 10 cm to a dm and 10 dm to a meter etc. In stead of 12 inch to a foot, 3 foot to a yard and 1760 yard to a mile.

/And King Bob wouldn't allow the filthy peasants within smelling distance, so his standard foot would be just as abstract as 10 millionth of the distance between the north pole and the equator.
//That is why they had measuring halls in which they stored the basic weights and lengths so people could compare their own weights and lengths to see if they were still valid.
 
2012-02-18 10:00:09 AM

DerAppie: way south: DerAppie: way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.

It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.

While what I'm about to say probably isn't entirely historically accurate or provable, it's my take on how it happened.

Inch is to the first knuckle, if I recall. The foot is, was, the foot. Cubit or yard was about an arm length, a pound is probably a handful of sand and so on.
When in doubt about how long the foot should be, wouldn't the answer be to use a standard foot?
Say, the kings foot is the official "foot" of measure. His body is the tie breaker as he is the sovereign that will be deciding anyway.

Time goes on, kings being kings want their own measure since there is no "standard" king. Due to vanity and politics, the measures get exaggerated.
The ruling king will always say he has a very big... feet, you see.

Eventually that no longer works with a large kingdom and everyone sits down to make a standard foot based on whatever the average turned out to be.
Not perfect, but it was based on something that seemed sensible at the time.

No one understood how far light traveled in a vacuum or how the boiling point of water changed at altitude. Replicating metric require a scientist, and in ancient times it would seem arbitrary compared to a human body ...


DerAppie, that was a very measured response.

HA!
 
2012-02-18 10:06:51 AM

way south: but 10 stuck because its a nice round number that adds and multiplies cleanly


It adds or multiplies because we use a base 10 system. In a base 16 system, 16 adds and multiplies easily.
Base 10: 10 + 10 = 20
Base 16: 10 + 10 = 20

way south: ...Right, so we aren't switching from 10 base.


Unless we're programmers, in which case we already have.
 
2012-02-18 10:07:23 AM
*cough* Acanthostega had 8 fingers on each hand*cough*

/Ichthyostega had 7
//Tulerpeton had 6.
///all were at least somewhat terrestrial
////stupid article
 
2012-02-18 10:10:52 AM

Niveras:

As I recall, the standards for imperial measures were based not on the average, but on the king's measurements. They'd then become standard among the plebians - "close enough" for an eyeball's inspection - and no one really cared because unless you were an alchemist (or maybe a merchant or money-changer) you really didn't care if that length of rope that the other guy calls a foot is actually 1 foot 2 inches by your experience.


Or you were a farmer with a land dispute, wanted to buy a certain length fabric for clothing, were buying a plot of land in a city, had someone build a house on said plot of land etc. Once you get enough people interdependant on and/or near each other you need a standard measurement. Eyeballing it will lead to a lot of conflict. Those 2 extra inches on the foot add up to another foot for each 6 foot. You might not care, but your neighbour will not like it if you move his wall a bit under the justification of "I bought that land". And would you like it if you buy 100 square foot of land and they get someone with small feet to measure your new plot? So they set a standard foot and a standard inch. The new inch and the new foot were completely arbitrary to just about everyone on the planet. No amount of "but this is how it used to be and it worked when we had 10 farms in a 10 mile radius" is going to change the fact that the inch and the foot and the yard are just as arbitrary as the metric system.
 
2012-02-18 10:18:32 AM

The Onion is prophetic: XVIII * LXIV


MCLII
 
2012-02-18 10:18:58 AM
So, Mayans used base-20, and Babylonians used base-60, but the only thing that makes sense to humans is 10. Right.

t3knomanser: It adds or multiplies because we use a base 10 system. In a base 16 system, 16 adds and multiplies easily.
Base 10: 10 + 10 = 20
Base 16: 10 + 10 = 20


And A + A = 14.
 
2012-02-18 10:28:36 AM

DerAppie: way south: DerAppie: way south:
Personally I think the metric system itself is an aberration. Its not a measure that's common to anything most humans know and its graduations, while convenient, are mostly meaningless. It came about in a time of social upheaval and is being forced by law.
Any other measure could have just as well been standardized in its place.

It's true that any other measurement could be standardized in it's place. But I'd love to hear which measures are based on anything that actually means something to humans. Before you come with inches (I heard that they are supposed to be the width of the tumb or somthing like that) and the "foot" I'd like you to take a moment and actually measure your feet and thumbs. And then do it for a few other people. See if you can get a useful standard going on.

While what I'm about to say probably isn't entirely historically accurate or provable, it's my take on how it happened.

Inch is to the first knuckle, if I recall. The foot is, was, the foot. Cubit or yard was about an arm length, a pound is probably a handful of sand and so on.
When in doubt about how long the foot should be, wouldn't the answer be to use a standard foot?
Say, the kings foot is the official "foot" of measure. His body is the tie breaker as he is the sovereign that will be deciding anyway.

Time goes on, kings being kings want their own measure since there is no "standard" king. Due to vanity and politics, the measures get exaggerated.
The ruling king will always say he has a very big... feet, you see.

Eventually that no longer works with a large kingdom and everyone sits down to make a standard foot based on whatever the average turned out to be.
Not perfect, but it was based on something that seemed sensible at the time.

No one understood how far light traveled in a vacuum or how the boiling point of water changed at altitude. Replicating metric require a scientist, and in ancient times it would seem arbitrary compared to a human body ...


Your presuming a demand for accuracy and a level of sophistication that didn't exist when these measures were coined.
The foremans foot is enough accuracy for measuring a cottage, the tailors inch is enough for making dresses on the people he's measured. The kings yard works for nation wide trade (and if you can't find a king, you can always get a ruler).
These people didn't know what a pole or equator was and had no means to determine the distance until centuries after the standard was decided.
Then here comes metric, all sciency and accurate, and alien to what the locals know after a millennia of pacing out their lumber measurements.

Metric may be easier to duplicate (with a few thousand dollars worth of equipment and a bachelors in science) but it's based on things that an ancient craftsman didn't have access to or information about. From the modern perspective, the foot (based on a biometric and in use since the days of forefathers) seems a lot less arbitrary.

I can get close enough in measure to imperial using my own feet and arms.
/close enough for government work, as they say.
 
2012-02-18 10:49:27 AM

Magorn: Except our horological systems are all base 12- twelve months to the year, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour 60 seconds in a minute, and it appears that this practice dates all the way back to the first known city on earth, Ur. Now is that because A) the UR people were all cousin-farkers with enhanced banjo-playing abilities? B) that the palm of the hand was counted as a digit? or C) cue that Centuari-looking guy from the History channel?


The 12 months in a year is likely based upon lunar cycles.

I'd hazard a guess that the other numbers were chosen because it was easy to mentally calculate whole number intervals.

24 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12.
30 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10.
60 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, and 12.

But I'm too lazy to Google the correct answer at the moment, so I'll just say it was aliens.
 
2012-02-18 10:55:21 AM

Magorn: Except our horological systems are all base 12- twelve months to the year, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour 60 seconds in a minute, and it appears that this practice dates all the way back to the first known city on earth, Ur. Now is that because A) the UR people were all cousin-farkers with enhanced banjo-playing abilities? B) that the palm of the hand was counted as a digit? or C) cue that Centuari-looking guy from the History channel?


Well, there's ~12 Lunar cycles in a year. I'm more wondering where the seven day week came from.
 
2012-02-18 10:58:22 AM

way south: herrDrFarkenstein: [www.lucylearns.com image 282x280]

Yeah, nothing but base10 math. Never been anything anywhere but base10 math.

Wouldn't it be easier tho?
Instead of thinking "24 hours in a day, 72 hours is three days, times seven days is... ZOMG, MATH!!", you could be saying "ten, twenty, thirty, three days. Hundred hours to a week".

A ten day week is a shiatty schedule, but it IS easy to calculate.


A ten day week might not be so bad. Work on Oneday, Twoday, and Threeday. Half day on Fourday, Work on Fiveday, Sixday, and Sevenday. Off on Eightday, Nineday, and Tenday.

IIRC, BSG uses a base 10 time system. 100 microns in a centon, 100 centons in a centar. I don't remember the units for days, weeks, or months. A year is a yahren.
 
2012-02-18 11:07:55 AM

DerAppie: Niveras:

As I recall, the standards for imperial measures were based not on the average, but on the king's measurements. They'd then become standard among the plebians - "close enough" for an eyeball's inspection - and no one really cared because unless you were an alchemist (or maybe a merchant or money-changer) you really didn't care if that length of rope that the other guy calls a foot is actually 1 foot 2 inches by your experience.

Or you were a farmer with a land dispute, wanted to buy a certain length fabric for clothing, were buying a plot of land in a city, had someone build a house on said plot of land etc. Once you get enough people interdependant on and/or near each other you need a standard measurement. Eyeballing it will lead to a lot of conflict. Those 2 extra inches on the foot add up to another foot for each 6 foot. You might not care, but your neighbour will not like it if you move his wall a bit under the justification of "I bought that land". And would you like it if you buy 100 square foot of land and they get someone with small feet to measure your new plot? So they set a standard foot and a standard inch. The new inch and the new foot were completely arbitrary to just about everyone on the planet. No amount of "but this is how it used to be and it worked when we had 10 farms in a 10 mile radius" is going to change the fact that the inch and the foot and the yard are just as arbitrary as the metric system.


I think it's unlikely that peasants and farmers in the 1600s and prior lived in such density that there'd be a dispute over a fraction of a foot in regards to land, or whether or not their clothes fit properly, or that the wood they cut to build their house matched some precise measurement. Instead, the wood serving similar functions in the construction of the house would match each other, clothing wasn't exactly tailored, and it's more likely that some noble would come along and tax the farmer for using "his" land, or they'd share grazing areas, or they'd just leave each other alone (either because they're just not that close together, or because you can't plant crops if someone else already planted there).

The nobility have a much closer line to the royalty so they are likely to use whatever "precise" measurement based on the king's dimensions. The peasants eyeball it and make use of whatever's left over (wood, of which there is likely to be a lot since it seemed doubtful that a person building his own house would actually buy it versus cutting it down), or deal with the shortfall (clothing), or just not concern themselves with such a minute detail as to whether some guy's cows wandered over an unmarked boundary. At worse you build a fence and the other guy doesn't agree with it, but in the end you can only 'own' as much land as you control. If the other guy knocks down the fence and pastures his cattle on "your" land. You go the magistrate to dispute it and they'll have the 'precise' present-day measurement to use, presuming whatever contract you have that gives you claim to the land is actually based on something precise (versus "from the Oak to yon Creek 50 paces hence") - but doubtful since commoners didn't really own land.
 
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