Thursday, November 20, 2008

To go from where we are, with a base ten system to a base twelve system we would ahve to create numerals for ten and eleven. We'd have to redo ceturies of books and figurings.

If we were in base twelve, writing that there were 10 widgets would mean there were twelve widgets. Writing 100 widgets would mean there were one hundred forty four widgets, twelve times twelve. I noticed on the sidewalk a pice of wood that might have been an escapee from a widget. Small and circular, it looked like a store bought cookie, about cookie size with curves around the edges and a hole in the middle.

It also looked like a simplified flower, so I thought of you. Give you flowers, one or a dozen, often feels accurate. I don't know if the dozen flower thing goes back to the Babylonians who had a bas twelve number system.

The twelves submerged in our time-keeping go back to the Babylonians--twelve hours in half a day and start counting again, twelve months in a year. And the time things divisible by twelve--twenty-four hours in a whole day, sixty (five times twelve) minutes in a hour, seconds in a minute.

I read a pamphlet from the Duodecimal Society that said that twelve is a better base number than ten, partly because it's divisible by more other numbers. Both 12 and 10, like all whole numbers, are divisible by themselves and one.

Ten is divisible also by two and five. Twelve is divisible by two, three, four, and six--twice as many divisors above the two all numbers have.

The Duodecimal Society folks saying having a base that is easier to take apart and put back together in different ways would make the arithmetic and mathematics are daily lives swim in subtly and pervasively easier.

Sort of reminds me some of being connected with you--subtle and pervasive increased ease. Warm, fuzzy fireworks--good, famous in movies. Generalized increased access to daily grace--less famous, also good.

It's easier for me to learn to live in that grace and ease than it would be for all of us to go to base twelve. But the learning does involve change, like learning to work with new numerals, so sometimes I'm slow on the uptake.

Would you like a wood scrap? I found it in that place of possiblities, the commons.