Archive for November, 2017

How high can a very forgetful person count using only his fingers?

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Before computers the cultural tradition was to count in base ten and teach it in schools because we had to choose some base and we have ten fingers so let's go with ten.

However now it is time to switch to base two, or maybe some other power of 10, because of the way that computers work. Whether or not schools teach base 10 before base ten will likely be a cultural divide. Back to our question, imagine that someone who keeps forgetting what number they're reached while they're counting decides to use his hands as a reference. He can count to 1111111111 if he treats each finger as a bit and marks the bit (1) if the finger is extended and marks it (0) if it is retracted. He can say one hundred thirty-two to anyone who tells him that reading from left to right or right to left is better than the other way, but I would go with letting your right pinky being extended while all others are retracted symbolize the number one.