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From: "Robert Borski" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Base 9 on the Whorl?
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 01:54:09 -0500

hartshorn having attempted to throttle my base 9 theory thusly:

"The children are in their childish way making mistakes."

"By the way 7 + 17 = 25 in base 9"

Yes. But if indeed the children are making mistakes, they are making the
less likely one. 29 - 19 in base 10 is almost impossible to get wrong--a
like number minus another like number has to be zero--it's about the easiest
calculation you can make and among the first we learn as
children--especially since we have ten fingers and ten toes to help abacus
our solution. But a calculation in base 9 of 7 + 17 is much more difficult,
even for adults; you need to figure out (or memorize by rote) that the
number 17 only contains 16 integers (and yes I know in base 9 the number 17
contains by definition 17 integers, but you know what I mean), add the 7 +
16 and get 23, then readjust to compensate out of base 10 (as I did not) for
the missing 10 and 20 in the final tallying. Plus as in base 10 there may be
special "rules" of 9 (e.g., any large number whose individual numbers add up
to nine or a number that can be reduced to nine is divisible by nine), only
in this case the rule would take on additional religious significance,
something akin to "In this column here, children, like minus like always
equals nine--because as we know the Nine can never truly be reduced. Bless
Pas, Echidna, and their children."

I'll also bet that if you ask first graders to subtract 19 from 29, they
will almost always get it right;
whereas if you ask most adults to add 7 + 17 in base 9, they will frequently
get it wrong.

In other words I stand by my original premise: is it possible base 9 is
being used on the Whorl?

Robert Borski


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