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Author Topic: It's All About the Angles  (Read 888 times)

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Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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It's All About the Angles
« on: October 20, 2009, 04:21:36 PM »
Have you ever wondered why 1 is 1 and 2 is 2?  It's all about the angles.  If one writes the numbers down (see below) on a piece of paper in their older forms, one quickly sees why.


Offline Oniya

Offline MercyfulFate

Re: It's All About the Angles
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2009, 06:11:21 PM »
Can't say I ever have.

Offline Kate

Re: It's All About the Angles
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2009, 02:04:14 AM »
wow i would have never guessed.

didnt know the original "7" looked like that either

Offline Valerian

Re: It's All About the Angles
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2009, 08:36:22 AM »
No, the original Arabic seven looked basically like the modern seven.  That's hardly changed.

Even without looking at the helpful links Oni provided, that looked like a real stretch to me.  As someone who's studied and done calligraphy, I'd never expect to find someone from a society that has only calligraphy pens and brushes available for serious writing sitting down and deliberately coming up with shapes like those.  Sharp angles are Not Fun.  The eight in particular would be unworkable.

Offline Oniya

Re: It's All About the Angles
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2009, 09:37:31 AM »
The ornamentation to the 7 is primarily (according to my math profs) to distinguish it from the European 1 (which has the top serif) and the > sign, all three of which can look terribly similar when written quickly.  (And they showed that to us on the chalkboard, typically with something like 71>17.)  Likewise, you'll see people that write their Z with a crossbar, which distinguishes it from a 2.

Offline Valerian

Re: It's All About the Angles
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2009, 10:14:48 AM »
I picked up the crossbar on the 7 when I was a kid -- I thought it looked cool -- but now I just think of it as a very useful thing to help differentiate my sevens and ones. That's probably a relatively recent addition, really, as mathematics evolved and things like 1-7 or Z-2 confusion became more and more common... though frustratingly, I haven't yet found a time period for when the crossbars started being used on sevens regularly.  Hmph.

Anyway, the fact is no one sat down and worked out a numbers system all at once -- they evolved, like any other language or alphabet, and their evolution can be traced pretty clearly.  Angles didn't enter into it.  Though I can see why it came about -- people like there to be some sort of order to these things.  :)