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Old 12 March 2014, 03:26 AM
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Default Ancient Babylonians did math in base 60

My cousin has taken to sharing little bits of trivia on Facebook. Tonight's "fact": "Ancient Babylonians did math in base 60 and not base 10, giving us 60 seconds in a minute, 360 degrees in a circle, etc."

So is that actually true? Base 60 means you'd need individual symbols for every number from 1 to 59, which seems rather cumbersome. I'm wondering if maybe there's a kernel of truth to this but maybe the author of this bit of trivia doesn't understand what base 60 actually means.
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Old 12 March 2014, 03:45 AM
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Usually when we say that something is in a certain base or radix, it implies a positional numbering system with as many symbols as the radix, including a symbol for zero. They didn't have that kind of system. However, their system did use multiples similar to Roman numerals and 60 was an important one. That's why we have 60 seconds in a minute and 360 degrees in a circle. The numbers from 1 to 60 also can be considered as one cuneiform symbol each:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_numerals
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Old 12 March 2014, 06:25 AM
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Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
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I had a math teacher who once complained/commented that if humans had evolved with six fingers on each hand, we'd all by doing math in base 12, which makes division much easier because 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 of 12 are both whole numbers. I wonder if that's in any way related?
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Old 12 March 2014, 06:38 AM
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Yes, it is because 60 is the next superior highly composite number after 12. (The two after that being 120 and 360.)
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Old 12 March 2014, 10:40 AM
TheBaron TheBaron is offline
 
 
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Which is why everyone should use pre-decimal British coinage. 12 pence in a shilling, 240 pence in a pound ( although it would be better if it were 360 ). Nice and easy to chop into thirds!
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Old 12 March 2014, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee Evilpixie View Post
I had a math teacher who once complained/commented that if humans had evolved with six fingers on each hand, we'd all by doing math in base 12, which makes division much easier because 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 of 12 are both whole numbers. I wonder if that's in any way related?
A long time ago, there was a Pogo strip where one of the characters realized that he only had 4 fingers. He panicked - "What should I do?" Another character chimed in with "Switch to base 8."
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Old 12 March 2014, 02:43 PM
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Walt Kelly was a brilliant.
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Old 12 March 2014, 03:08 PM
Bobcat Warrior Bobcat Warrior is offline
 
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"We have met the enemy, and they are us."

BW
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Old 12 March 2014, 03:21 PM
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I just realized that in a terrible lapse of parenting I failed to introduce my daughter to Pogo. Off to Amazon. . .
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Old 12 March 2014, 05:29 PM
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Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
I just realized that in a terrible lapse of parenting I failed to introduce my daughter to Pogo. Off to Amazon. . .
Porky Pine and I thank you.
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Old 12 March 2014, 05:42 PM
Bobcat Warrior Bobcat Warrior is offline
 
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Brad:

Did you hear, Churchy all in a tizzy. Friday the 13th falls on Thursday this month.

BW
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Old 15 March 2014, 08:49 PM
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He tole me "That's as close as she gets without bein' a actual calamitous enormity!"
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