Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reading Next: Alex's adventures in the Numberland

Remember the time when you used to remember phone numbers by-heart. We used to find unique patterns and rhythms to help us retrieve the digits when we needed them. Double-two three-two six-eight-seven – automatic grouping of seemingly disparate numbers translating them into a phrase that has a 'ring' to it.

With the adoption of mobile phones, we lost that ability somewhere along the way. Those of us who have lost our phone will vouch for the pain of loosing the contacts more than the cost of the phone.

Thinking about it, it is not just the mobile phone that has taken magic of numbers away from us – calculators, computers, spreadsheets have all played a bigger role in making us number-dumb.

I should confess I am no math buff, but was really fascinated recently when Saju picked up this book on numbers – ‘Alex’s Adventures in the Numberland’. I asked him to share some interesting stories from the book ….

1.      How the invention of zero by ancients Indians revolutionized maths
2.      An Amazonian tribe only capable of counting to 5
3.      Another tribe who could count upto 33 – however numbers 31,32 and 33 are traditionally only counted by men (clue: they use body parts to count)

Sounds like a lot of fun and I have bookmarked it as my next read.

Here is a short video on the book by the author. 

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