Upon the arrival of a new year it is a good opportunity to rethink our
choices and customs. This is a time for resolutions. I guess I’m not the only
one whose new year’s resolutions seem important and noble, but end up not
materializing most of them. I guess it’s similar to being drunk, and then
getting sober with reality—the idea was nice; only not very practical.
Well, here’s an idea—not mine, but one I am willing to embrace upon the
new year or when drunk—why not change our counting system from
decimal to dozenal?
Recently I read an article in an Israeli electronic newspaper
(http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3473644,00.html) and through it I
became aware of the Dozenal Society of America (http://www.dozenal.org).
This society promotes the idea of changing our counting system from
decimal to dozenal. I have to say that they make quite compelling
arguments. The reason that we use decimal counting is
biological/historical—we have 10 fingers in our hands and legs (unless
you’re Count Rugen); however, many things in life have to do with the
number 12, its divisors and products. For example, 60 seconds in a minute,
60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day, 12 months in a year, 360 degrees in
a circle, and so on…
Nowadays when we don’t rely on counting with our fingers, wouldn’t it
make more sense to switch to the dozenal counting system? Obviously, for
practical reasons the change would be a nightmare during the switching
period, but in the long run, wouldn’t the change be beneficial to humanity?
Speaking of bases… I’m sure many of you are familiar with the following
monolog from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:
“Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four
times seven is – oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate!”
Now Alice was not as stupid as she suspected. Lewis Carroll was a
mathematician, and he played a little game involving bases:
4 × 5 = 12 (base 18)
4 × 6 = 13 (base 21)
4 × 7 = 14 (base 24)
4 × 8 = 15 (base 27)
4 × 9 = 16 (base 30)
4 × 10 = 17 (base 33)
4 × 11 = 18 (base 36)
4 × 12 = 19 (base 39)
4 × 13 ≠ 20 (base 42)
With this I’ll conclude and greet you with a Happy New Year 11#4!