The Magic of Numbers

The Magic of Numbers by Walter McIntyre

Contrary to how you may have learned math, the story of numbers is one of magic. Numbers fill our lives in ways we never think of. From IP addresses to the television channel you watch, numbers allow us to differentiate between categories and events.

To see the real magic behind our numbers, try this experiment. Solve this equation (4+15)/(29*16). Now solve this equation without converting it to our modern numbering system, (IV+XIV)/(XXIX*XVI). The Roman numerals were for documentation and it was not possible to perform operations with them. The Romans used Arabic numbers, similar to what we use today for commerce, where operations were needed. Aren’t you glad you were taught math in our modern numbering system rather that Roman numerals? Imagine how much harder long division would have been.

The Origin Of Things

Engineering begins with the axiom that there is nothing we can’t figure out.  I used to call this roof top engineering because it requires a shift in the way we view challenges.  Viewing a challenge from different perspective gives us a 3D perspective of it.
Here is an example of this shift in thinking:
When we see the numbers below, we intuitively understand what they mean, but why these shapes? I believe that it is important to know the origins of things.
Our number shapes come from the Hindu-Arabic number characters.  Remember that these characters were used as a universal way to count for commerce.  One need not intuitively know the name of the character, just how it represented a quantity.
Can you figure it out? (Hint: Count the angles on each character)