four or five; octal systems; polydactylism
Nils Lid Hjort
nils at math.uio.no
Fri Jan 26 16:41:58 CET 2001
Kristian Pedersen, Kevin Clark and Francois Willot
speculated & wondered about the four or five fingers
question in the last digest. In my
"Mathematics in Duckburg"
lecture today I indeed gave some attention to this,
since it is so basic to counting, which again is
at the heart of mathematics.
1. Since the inhabitants of the Duckburg universe seem
to have four fingers per hand, one might speculate
that their counting system is octal rather than
decimal in nature. -- I gave two examples;
. Donald's car registration number is "313",
which however could mean "car number 203"
in our system.
. Today is January 26. In Duckburg octal notation this
would however be January 32.
2. There are examples where a person suddenly and for a
short time develops an extraneous finger, typically
under stressful circumstances. This would be known as
"spontaneous polydactilism". I've spotted several examples.
(This is also discussed in an article some years ago in
the German "Der Donaldist".)
. Gyro Gearloose, in the "Firefly tracker" story, US 27/1959;
check the "Hey!... That's it! Fireflies!" picture.
. Donald, in the "Midget racers" story, WD 166/1954;
check the "Oh, my stars! ..." picture.
. Donald, in the "Omelet" story, WD 146/1952;
check the "Umteen tons of feed ..." picture.
Again, there are many other instances, also for other
inhabitants, in Barks stories.
3. How many molecules are there on Planet Earth? Admiration
and envy to the first on this list who can give a ballpark
figure for this. Anyway, Donald estimates Scrooge's fortune
as something like 0.5 * 10^78 + 0.16 dollars, a pretty
hefty amount. My curiosity is whether 10^78 is already
a bigger number than the number of molecules on Earth.
Nils Lid Hjort
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