Reply to post: Re: So much for digital

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So much for digital

"why has the modern world moved so far towards pure binary (and powers of 2 in specific contexts)?"

Imperial measurement made considerable use of binary. Weights from pounds down to drachms were binary as were volumes from gallons down to gills. In general they seem to have been based on measures which were a convenient size for some purpose with a strong inclination to subdivide on a binary basis. It's a natural thing to do. If you have a standard of weight, for instance, you can weigh out that amount of sand, flour or whatever on scales and then, using the same scales, divide that into two equal portions and subdivide further.

The problem arises when two different scales of measurement overlap and we end up with a stone of 14 pounds. Other stones were available - I've seen reference to a stone of 15lbs in the C18th - but I suppose a atone of 16lbs would have required too much adjustment to reconcile with the larger scales in use for other purposes.

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