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(Episode 15) Babylonian Counting

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961077.  Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:04 am Reply with quote

Just wanted to remark to a detail from this episode. When explaining the base -12 system in regards to time, the panel makes jokes on the fact that they have 10 fingers and that ten is therefore better to base mathematics on (I recall Bill Bailey doing it mostly).

The Babylonian system was actually more handy to be developped. It was created for trade:

Imagine you're selling (let's say apples (example)). You don't want to give the person the apple until he's paid and you can't do abstract calculus in your mind.

1) Hold out an apple in one hand
2) Hold the other hand up, palm facing yourself
3) Use the thumb of the hand (not the one holding the apple) to count the fingerbones in that hand

=> You reach twelve

Further calculus is also possible. Multiplication for example, 3 x 3 => 1 finger is three bones, so three down, three across, is 9. 3 x 6 => three down, six across (using both hands there)

Basically, you can do more mathematics using this technique then you can with just the ten fingers. Sure, it's not perfect. But for a 5000 year old idea it's still Quite Interesting

961144.  Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:18 am Reply with quote

Thanks Cardoa and welcome to the forums :-)

We did do some research on this back in the days of the B series, as you can see from post 1482.

961148.  Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:21 am Reply with quote

aha, missed that part.

961172.  Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:01 am Reply with quote

Oh it's undoubtedly buried somewhere in the back pages by now - I can see from the post number (post numbers are nearing one million now) that it was an earlyish post.

1103522.  Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:11 am Reply with quote

As far as I can work out, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen Beatrix's tenth cousin - there doesn't seem to have been any intermarriage between the two royal houses since the time of William and Mary.

The British royal family is rather more closely related to the Danish and Norwegian royal families, and to the no longer regnant German and Greek royal families.

1103523.  Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:20 am Reply with quote

ConnieKeefe wrote:
As far as I can work out, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen Beatrix's tenth cousin



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