Chapter Ten

Alternative 10s

Ten is an exceptionally important number to us humans. Ten is the number of fingers and toes most of us have, and we certainly prefer to have all ten of each. Because our fingers are convenient for counting, we humans have developed an entire number system that’s based on the number ten.

A pair of hands with the fingers labeled 1 through 10.

As I discussed in the previous chapter, our conventional number system is called base ten, or decimal. Decimal numbers seem so natural to us that it’s difficult at first to conceive of alternatives. Indeed, when we see 10, we can’t help but think that it refers to this many ducks:

But the only reason that the numeral 10 refers ...

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