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The Geometry of Our Numbers

 

Science

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One of the most interesting aspects of Science is in its history.  You don't need to be a scientist to have fun reading about history.  Lots of books are written yearly that are easy to read.

Sometimes we get so used to doing what we do, that we don't ask questions about how we got where we are.

The vaunted  Roman Empire was crippled not so much by Vandal hoards, but by their number system.  It was terrible for doing arithmetic.  Unlike the east, they took rather than bartered so that made some math not so necessary.  Trading people need good accounting.

So how did we get the number shapes we have?  We know that the east invented 0 and that changed everything, but how did they invent the shapes of the numbers we have?

We'll show you the rationale behind it and you'll be surprised to see that we've lost some of the things that make our number shapes meaningful.

It all has to do with angles and as you can see from the pictures to the right, we've lost some things that might help kids.  We've rounded everything off and lost some of the angles  The base of the 7 is missing something.  Nine no longer has a sturdy base.  Maybe we should go back to the angular originals?

Maybe you can share this history with your children and grandchildren



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Friday, May 14, 2010