Monday, November 7, 2005

Why Base 8? and other random thoughts...

Why base 8? Some say the Yuki Indians used base 8 because it made more sense to them to count the spaces between their fingers instead their ten fingers. But for some reason base 8 boggles my mind and I keep seeking out how it was used before computers. There is a plethora of information out there about base 8 and computers. So does this mean that computers were meant to be? I'm probably thinking too hard but I like knowing the why of things then the how of things makes more sense to me.

Number bases are like another language and my preferred number language is base 10, thank you very much. I can count by fives and tens. I can use all my fingers. Yet, some think base 12 makes the most sense. I kind of agree. Base 12 makes sense because there are 12 months in a year, 12 eggs in a dozen eggs, 12 hours in the day and 12 at night. Ultimately number bases are just a way to name the patterns we observe such as phases of the moon in the sky and the length of a day. Except base 8 doesn't make sense to me because I didn't grow up with it. I didn't live it. It's like I'm culturally clueless with numbers.

So I've decided that to be less clueless I must believe: Some things are the way they are just because they are. There is no grand scheme to it all. The Yuki Indians used base 8 because they saw the spaces between their fingers, the Mayans used base 20 because they saw all their fingers and their toes too, and "we" likely use base 10 because of the ten fingers on our hands.

Someday I will count, add and do things in base 8 to comprehend what the Yuki Indians did and maybe then it will make sense. Someday I will do this because I can, if I want to. Someday, just because.

No comments:

Post a Comment