Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ten

One wonders about the value of a number that is not. We assume that it exists in its place of glory because we have ten fingers and use them to map the universe. But if you ask someone what the ten digits are, they often say, "0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9." Sometimes, they take their cue from the keyboard or keypad layout and say, "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0" or "7-8-9-4-5-6-1-2-3-0" (this last is pretty rare, but I've seen people visualise it like that).

No ten, even though there are ten digits. It would probably be the same if we had some other counting system or number base. There would be some mystical power associated with having to punt our digits out of the directly enumerable. Wait, let me rephrase. There is some sense of mystical completeness about counting up to the number at which you no longer have digits to proceed beyond.

Toes? Well, I suppose they would lead to metric feet.

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