23420 places

In the octal numeral system, 10,000 is 23420.

In binary it is 10011100010000.

In base 36 it is 7PS.

If you’re confused (like me) it’s because you’re so used to the decimal system that you don’t even think of it as a system, you think of it as what numbers intrinsically do.  But we count the way we do because someone (the ancient Egyptians, to be precise) decided that they would count up to ten and then start again at one, making a note in the left hand column that they were on their second set of ten.

But in other systems you count up to…other numbers, and then start over.  So in the octal, or eight based system, you count up to EIGHT, then start over at one:  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,21, and so on.  Don’t say the numbers past eight as “eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen…” or you will be using decimal language to describe octal numbers.  “Teen” means ten, after all, and there is no ten in octal.  So unless you speak the language of the Yuki tribe of California (which used an octal system) you’d better call 11 “one one,” and 47 “four seven.”

I think I’ve mentioned my housemates Mark and Joel before.  This is the kind of conversational topic that is likely to spring up in our kitchen without warning.  Daniela (Joel’s wife) usually leaves to go do something else, but I am like a little kid wanting to be included in the grownups’ conversation, so I pay as much attention as I can, then go up to my room and start googling.

Then I get really excited about learning something new, and I want to share!  So I draw a picture and hang it on the refrigerator.  Wait, no, that’s what I did when I was a kid.  Now, I blog.

So, if Hopkins was living in a society that used the octal system, he would have written,

Í say móre: the just man justices;

Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—

Chríst—for Christ plays in two three four two zero places…

…which really messes up the iambic pentameter…

…and my blog would be called the same.

But he wasn’t, so he didn’t, and it’s not.


One comment on “23420 places

  1. Laura says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of number bases 😀

    just wait until you get into the fact that all characters in a computer actually have a 4 digit decimal number or a 2 digit hex number that represents them. 🙂


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