[ExI] New number system (was Re: our next billion dollars)

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Tue May 26 03:04:14 UTC 2009

2009/5/26 BillK <pharos at gmail.com>:
> On 5/25/09, Michael LaTorra wrote:
>> On that basis, the average American can expect to live for a couple of
>> billion seconds plus an additional 300 million seconds or so.
>> But no human being has yet lived for one trillion seconds.
>> Now there's a nice transhumanist goal:
>> I want to live one trillion seconds!
>> ....Or more ;)
> I'd love to live one trillion seconds!
> But.......... who's going to pay my pension?   ;)
> BillK

Counting in seconds like that reminds me of a question a colleague
asked the other day: Why do we see kilowatt hours used in electronics
so much, when surely it's perverse compared to joules (or a
kilojoules, megajoules, what have you)

I think the answer is that we in the metric speaking world still have
perverse non-metric time. Kilowatt seconds could be better spoken of
in terms of joules, but kilowatt hours? The factor of 3600 gums up the

So maybe we'd be better off with metric time? Move to seconds,
decaseconds, centaseconds, kiloseconds, etc. If we revise the length
of a second down, we could make it so 1 day = 100 kiloseconds.

Thinking about that in more detail, I think no. It'd be great to
divide time into orders of magnitude based on the same base as all the
other things we measure, but I think the base is wrong.

Base 10 is entirely arbitrary. It's supposed to come from the number
of fingers we have, I think, and is of course enshrined in the
hindu-arabic number system. But that's not a good reason to be using
it. Think of the stress we go through with anything remotely computer
related, which all wants to work in base 2? Now there's a great reason
for binary, it's not arbitrary at all. It's impractical to use on a
daily basis for people of course, but that's why computer people
standardised on hexadecimal. Hexadecimal is the thing!

Think of all the perversions decimal has caused. eg:

Kilobyte, Kibibyte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibibyte

Binary Coded Decimal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary-coded_decimal

Floating point can't really represent decimal numbers:

It's rubbish. For the technically minded, have a think today about all
the places things would simplify dramatically if only we had a number
system whose base was a power of 2.

So I'm gunning for standard use of Hexadecimal to replace Decimal.
Along with that, we need a new Hexadecimal Metric System, including
Hexadecimal Metric Time.

But it's 0x0B O'Clock, lunch time. gtg.


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