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We count in sets of ten. This seems natural to us because we have ten fingers. However the ancient Babylonians used different units, which is why we measure time in units of 60 minutes and clock-faces have 12 hours. We need not use sets of ten, any number would do. Mathematicians call this modular arithmetic. So we count in modulus ten. When perfect squares and modular arithmetic are combined strange and unexpected things happen. A...

2000-03-03

 philosophy mathematics measurement decimal Fermat nature