
More Knee Issues (was 11gon)
Posted:
Nov 29, 2000 8:17 PM


Well, Prof. Conway, that was one of the more fascinating discussions I've seen in Mathematics and Linguistics. One thing that's always fascinated me about how the West and East developed is that at least from Roman times, with IVXLCDMMbar and so on there was a clear repetition every third digit (or 6 for the old British system). Thus numbers start with their latin root and we have lovely things like million, billion, trillion and so on. Yet in the Far East, the root has always been 4digits. Thus you have a word for 1, 10, 100, 1000 and 10000. After 10000, you have 10 * 10000, 100 * 10000 and then because noone really needed numbers much greater than that until recently they now conform to our 3digit system of million, billion, trillion. Now what you wrote of the Greek is interesting because you imply that the Greeks followed a similar 4digit system with mono/hena, deca, hecta, chilia and myria, and what would come next? Would we just say deca<times>myriagon or simply decamyriagon (10,0000 knees [note zero count intentional]) as opposed to myriadecagon / myriakaidecagon for a 1010gon? Did they have a word for 100,000 or were they like the Far Easterners and had a 4digit system in ancient Greece, and if the later, did one influence the other or is it just coincidence. I know the Mayans counted very large numbers based on 18 and 20 for their calendar but I'm not clear on any decimal pattern for their larger numbers. Personally I've always found Base210 very interesting though as you could then determine divisibility of 2, 3, 5 and 7 by examining only the last digit and by 11 and 19 by summing the digits and then finding if that number was divisible (the later rule would work in the same way in Base10 that we can add the digits of a number to find divisibility by 3 or 9 since 10  1 = 9). Thanks again for the fascinating discussion!
Be Seeing You,
Jeffrey.

