Wednesday, 12 December 2012

All your base are belong to someone

Fans of the d12, as well as game designers and worldbuilders, and anyone interested in getting a fresh perspective on a key assumption of today's world, might like to read this article on dozenals and the idea of shifting from base-10 to base-12...


SandWyrm said...

The benefits (like switching to metric and Dvorak keyboards) are pretty compelling. It's a cleaner mathematical base/method overall.

But is it practical? Nope. The costs of the switch from base-10 to base-12 would outweigh the gains. Most people wouldn't see the benefits in their day-to-day lives, and as a programmer I have enough trouble working with base-16 (hexidecimal) numbers as it is.

Porky said...

I more or less agree. But there are degrees of impracticality, and I can't help but wonder how difficult it would really be to teach and have young people apply both systems - as a powerful and empowering exercise in itself - and let the benefits begin to flow from that. If they really are so obvious, it could then mean a more natural and far simpler changeover at some medium- to long-term point.

We seem to think relatively short-term as a species. If we are going places, and personally I'm not convinced we are or need to, let's get going. It looks to me like we're more capable than we might think.

Jennie said...

We owe our 360 degree circles and our 60-minute hours to the Mesopotamian astronomers who used base 60 to calculate. It was easier to use for the very large numbers they worked with (how many times have you had to count the zeros in a large base-ten number to keep track of the place value?), and because it was divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30.

The important thing for ease of use and calculation is that units of measure should have the same kinds of intervals as the numerical base. SI ("metric") units are all based on powers of ten, and they are very simple to use in calculations using a decimal number system, where the place value is also based on powers of ten. A measurement system based on dozens, gross, etc. is easier to use with a duodecimal system or a sexigesimal system.

When contemplating which numerical base we should use, we might do well to remember that there are only 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Porky said...

It's very good to see you again, and hot on the heels of C'nor too. It's a Christmas come early, and if we were lucky enough to have you both posting again it would be a happier new year for sure.

You make me think a whole range could be covered without much more difficulty, from base-60 or even higher down to base-2, focusing on the clear relationships between them but also on linking it all to the digits of the hand for example, for a grounding in the founding role of the body.

Another benefit there could be a more subtle comprehension of the course of history and the worlds of our numerate predecessors, maybe those of our successors too.

Jennie said...

I'm hoping to be able to start posting again regularly, but I can't make any promises at this point. I'm going to give it a try.

My brains got a little scrambled in a car accident about 6 weeks back, and word retrieval and expressive language are some of the things that are suffering.

When I do start back, please let me know if I start posting gibberish!

Porky said...

That sounds serious and potentially uncomfortable, not to mention inconvenient. Hopefully the language trouble is the worst of the consequences and it's clearing up fast, the powers coming back with practice if not alone. That's assuming they're not already back at a high level - what you've written here seems to me as eloquent as ever. That said, I'll certainly study anything you do post with great pleasure.