Question of the day

JonW

Member
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2,234
Hmmm - seems like people are lost, and there is a degree of guesswork going on.

Time for a clue?
 

MarkMas

Member
Messages
2,459
Hmmm - seems like people are lost, and there is a degree of guesswork going on. Time for a clue?
Happy to have a clue, but I am not guessing!!!
30 was based on - "Count to five on one hand, and then, save the five on one finger of the other hand, then count to five again, and save, until you have 5+5+5+5+5 on one hand and 5 on the other = 30.
And then I thought, wait, you could just do the whole thing in base 5 - so 11111 (on one hand) in base 5 is 781 plus 5 (on the other hand), which is, um 786 (sorry, I had 785, before)
 

JonW

Member
Messages
2,234
Happy to have a clue, but I am not guessing!!!
30 was based on - "Count to five on one hand, and then, save the five on one finger of the other hand, then count to five again, and save, until you have 5+5+5+5+5 on one hand and 5 on the other = 30.
And then I thought, wait, you could just do the whole thing in base 5 - so 11111 (on one hand) in base 5 is 781 plus 5 (on the other hand), which is, um 786 (sorry, I had 785, before)
Very good... I apologise profusely!

Not the answer I’m after though, and the use of a calculator for this question is strictly forbidden (not many existed in Babylonian times…)
 

CatmanV2

Member
Messages
30,112
Happy to have a clue, but I am not guessing!!!
30 was based on - "Count to five on one hand, and then, save the five on one finger of the other hand, then count to five again, and save, until you have 5+5+5+5+5 on one hand and 5 on the other = 30.
And then I thought, wait, you could just do the whole thing in base 5 - so 11111 (on one hand) in base 5 is 781 plus 5 (on the other hand), which is, um 786 (sorry, I had 785, before)
I considered that as an answer as well, with exactly the same logic. Problem here is how do we define counting. As previous using Binary you can count up to a lot. Many different ways of using fingers to count :)

Good stuff!

C
 

JonW

Member
Messages
2,234
Indeed there are... an astronomical number of different ways.

However, the Babylonians didn’t have binary or anything else super complicated, but used a way of counting that has shaped the modern world...

It’s also sexy...

That must be enough clues now!
 

MarkMas

Member
Messages
2,459
Well, that sounds like
3 joints x 5 fingers x 2 hands = 30
or
3 joints x 5 fingers x 6 (five other fingers to keep track plus one final hand) = 90
OK so:
14 joints x 2 hands = 28
or
14 joints x 6 (five other fingers to keep track plus one final hand) = 84
 

JonW

Member
Messages
2,234
Bunch of mathematical pedants...;)

QM is always right... and the clues so far are...

Lost
Degree
Time
Astronomical
Sexy
 

JonW

Member
Messages
2,234
Bingo…! We have a winner...

The Babylonians used a sexagesimal (base 60) system. The thumb on the counting hand points at each finger joint, and gives you 1-12. The second hand is used to count multiples of 12, so 5*12=60


This is (apparently) linked to why 60 seconds, 60 minutes, 360 degrees, etc... Also, 60 is a superior highly composite number, and is divisible by lots of numbers. This helps makes fractions and mental arithmetic easier....