1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9... and 0. With just these ten symbols, we can write any rational number imaginable. But why these particular symbols? Why ten of them? And why do we arrange them the way we do?
And on a related note, an article from: Smithsonia.com titled How Humans Invented Numbers—And How Numbers Reshaped Our World featuring Anthropologist Caleb Everett explores the subject in his new book, Numbers and the Making Of Us. Peersonally, I find the Pirahã study fascinating.
"Once you learn numbers, it’s hard to unwrap your brain from their embrace. They seem natural, innate, something all humans are born with. But when University of Miami associate professor Caleb Everett and other anthropologists worked with the indigenous Amazonian people known as the Pirahã, they realized the members of the tribe had no word used consistently to identify any quantity, not even one.
Intrigued, the researchers developed further tests for the Pirahã adults, who were all mentally and biologically healthy. The anthropologists lined up a row of batteries on a table and asked the Pirahã participants to place the same number in a parallel row on the other side. When one, two or three batteries were presented, the task was accomplished without any difficulty. But as soon as the initial line included four or more batteries, the Pirahã began to make mistakes. As the number of batteries in the line increased, so did their errors."( Collapse )