This is actually really interesting. We’ve generally settled on base 10 for our numeric system. You have the numbers 1 to 9 and then you start counting in tens, then hundreds, etc.

But in computing we use binary where we count in twos, so every “ten” in binary is actually 2.

Then there’s hexidecimal, which is a numeric system with base 16. So you have “numbers” for one to fifteen and then you start counting up in 16s instead of tens, so if you have the number 11 in hexidecimal, that’s 1*16 + 1 =17.

But one ancient culture had a numeric system based around 60 because it divides up nicely into lots of different numbers – and that’s why we have 60 seconds to a minute and so on even now.

So even on Earth we have four numeric systems in common usage right now – and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

It’s entirely possible that aliens would use some other base for their counting system. In fact, one thing I loved in an episode of Stargate SG-1 was when there were some equations that didn’t make sense and the answer was “10 equals 8″, in other words, the aliens were using base 8 for their numeric system. Later in the episode, Jack met the Asgard for the first time and these little alien guys had 8 fingers.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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