The Story of One

Here’s another excellent documentary from Terry Jones; this time recounting the history of the world’s oldest and simplest number.

It’s interesting to note that it took almost half a millennium for Indian numbers (commonly but mistakenly called “Arabic”) to finally supplant Roman numerals in the West and the reason they finally did so — or so this particular version of events suggests — was perhaps because the renowned Florentine mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci showed Christian merchants how useful Indian numerals could be, for instance, for calculating profits.

Speaking of Fibonacci, here’s a curious bit of trivia…

Each term in the Fibonacci sequence is derived by adding the two preceding terms; i.e., 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on. Remarkably, you can use successive terms in this sequence to convert miles to kilometers. For example: 8 miles ≈ 13 kilometers, 13 miles ≈ 21 kilometers, etc. It turns out the reason this nifty little trick works is because the two units stand in φ (to within 0.5 percent of 1.6180339887, the felicitous number also known as the “golden ratio”).

Who says math is boring?



Filed under Arcana, History

18 responses to “The Story of One

  1. Nevermind this shit, did you catch anything?

  2. To be honest, I wasn’t actually fishing. Aside from just being an expression, that was a bit of wishful thinking on my part. In fact, I was getting caught up on a project for a client that had been indefinitely sidetracked some time ago. That, and attending to some rather irksome financial matters. As it turned out, the weather wasn’t really all that conducive to outdoor activities in any case.

  3. Welcome back, Red – sorry to hear your vacation wasn’t actually a vacation 😉

  4. Ah, sadly they never are. One of these days though I’m going to trek across North Africa from Casablanca to Cairo, then up through the Levant and Anatolia to Istanbul. Of course, I’ve been saying that to myself for 30 years now. I’m such a hopeless procrastinator. Maybe just as well, I’ll probably get my head blown off. And not in a good way. 😉

    Hey, eat your heart out — I scored some Cuban Arabica today. It smells like chocolate and tastes even better. Mmmmmm.

  5. you were away?



  6. btw, down here, “gone fishin'” is a euphemism for bonkers.


  7. Smartass. Or should I say “low intellect spammer” (to quote Mr. Alexander in his helpful tip to the irredeemably stupid “Hunter”)?

  8. Mmmmm … now I have coffee envy, Red.

    Did you read through that whole hilarious thread? KEv was quite delicious 😉

  9. Really? I didn’t know that. Although I guess there are plenty of euphemisms for being a tinny short of a six-pack.

  10. “Or should I say “low intellect spammer””

    god help me, but that was a butt load of fun!

    “a tinny short of a six-pack.”

    english, bub. english.


  11. “KEv was quite delicious”

    (takes bow)

    (splits pants*)


    *h/t to eyedoc333

  12. Lulu — Oh my god, yes I did. Quite the brutal experience. I’d like to say that the confabulation, dissembling and zany “logic” in defense of her boneheaded gaffe was amusing, but I just found it depressing. Once again it demonstrates the sheer pointlessness and utter futility of attempting to engage such wretchedly dishonest people in good faith. Ditto for the Dumbest Blogger on the Planet® that you folks were sparring with over the past few days. What a baneful clown that guy is.

  13. KEv — Too bad she deleted almost all of your pant-splitting posts.

  14. Our gal “Hunter” has some serious issues with me. I just can’t figure out why … I’m nothing if not polite to her 😉

  15. “Too bad she deleted almost all of your pant-splitting posts.”

    too bad for her that i reposted every last one, and then some.


  16. Well, you’re a “liberal” for starters. To frothing ideological partisans like “Hunter” that right there automatically puts you in league with Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. And you’re a “feminist” which means you’re mission in life is to destroy her precious “family values” (of which she and her fellow townswomen have proprietary rights to, btw) with your pernicious crazy talk about equality and “rights” and so forth — doubtless right now you’re plotting cunning new ways to further the gay agenda and lure innocent youth into sexual deviance; that is, when you’re not figuring out ways to undermine the “culture of life” by dancing with ribald joy on a bloody pile of aborted fetuses. Oh, and you’re also a hellbound heathen and say nasty things about the Dear Leader. Those are a few things that immediately come to mind.

  17. Who knew I was so insidiously eeeeeevvvviiiiiillllll?

  18. Lulu —All of us “lefties” are the embodiment of pure evil, don’t you know. Little better than vermin, backstabbing traitors or malignant cancer in the minds of many so-called “conservatives” like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and their adoring followers who “joke” about what good fun it would be to have us all wiped from the face of the earth. Yep, the very same “culture warriors” that relentlessly keen and wail about the sanctity of life, and who sanctimoniously lecture us ad nausea about “civility” while gnashing whatever teeth they have in anguished despair at the “potty mouth” language of “lefties”… At the same time however thinking it’s just an absolute laugh riot to crack wise about the Holocaust, muse wistfully over the murder of innocent civilians (provided they’re not white or Christian) and wish horrible, fiery death and eternal damnation on untold millions of people. Funny thing that. Some might be inclined to think such uncouth sentiments detract rather from their credibility, but sadly it seems not to be the case in the lamentable farce that passes for “political discourse” these days.

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