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Numbers

Updated on February 1, 2017

Numbers help to make life comprehensible, Nature understandable, and the outer space visible. With the help of the numbers, we calculate that the Universe began its existence around 13.5 billion years ago. Our Earth was formed around 4.5 billion years ago and soon after, around 1 billion years ago, the journey of life started. We, the number cruncher, emerged around 1 million years ago. Our civilization was around 7000 years old and it was also the date the numbers were discovered. We find that everything on Earth is made up of one or a combination of some of the 98 chemical elements and nothing can move faster than the speed of light at 186,000 mile/sec. Today, an average person can be expected to live to 80 years old. A heartbeat of 70 per minute, cholesterol of HDL/LDL = 110/70, blood pressures of 120/80, and a body temperature of 98 degree F are considered normal.

Basics

There are only 10 unique basic numbers – 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 – out of which we can get all the numbers we need. The numbers start with 0, 1, 2 and so on. When they reach 9, the next number in the sequence is 10 which is made of 2 basic numbers – 0 and 1. The sequence continues with 10, 11, 12, .., 19, 20, 21, 22, .., 90, 91, 92, .., 100, .., 199, and there is no limit to the size of the sequence, hence, the number of numbers. The number 1 is the building block of all the numbers (0 = 1 -1, and number = number +1).

Time

Without time, our history will be unrecognizable, our civilization will be lost, and our man-made world will not be operated at its clockwork efficiency. We build instruments to measure the flow and passage of time. With the help of numbers, time has become a precise and essential element that regulates how we live our life. We assign the time that Earth circles around the Sun to be a year. We divide the year into 365 days, the day into 24 hours, the hour into 60 minutes, and the minute into 60 seconds. Our heart beats around once per second and that gives us an idea how long 1 second is, how fast a minute goes by, how much work we can do in a hour, how long and tiring a day can be without rest, how in a year time a lot of things can happen unexpectedly affecting our well-being, and a life time is how long a person spend on Earth from birth to death. In the man-made world, a person normally goes to work at 8AM, takes a 1 hour lunch break at 12PM, gets off work at 5PM, eats dinner at 7PM, and retires to the bedroom at 11PM.

Science

Science is the most usual tool we discover that has enabled us to understand how Nature works bit by bit, piece by piece, layer by layer systematically, analytically, and logically. Scientific principles are objective observation, detail documentation, concise analysis, insightful deduction and induction, and exhaustive experimentation and verification. Numbers play an important role in Science as they do not change like the weather. They can be easily sorted and compared to show similarity and disparity. They can be graphed and charted to expose pattern and trend. Today, Science has uncovered many specific and unique numbers that determine how things are and work:

  1. p (Pi) = 3.141592,

    Circumference of a circle = 2 x p x (radius of a circle),

  2. C (Speed of Light) = 2.99792458 × 108 meter/sec,

    Energy = mass x C2,

  3. G (Gravitational Constant) = 6.67408 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2,

    Attractive force = G x (mass1 x mass2) / (distance between m1 and m2)2,

  4. R (Ideal gas constant) = 8.3144598 J⋅mol−1⋅K−1,

    Pressure x Volume = R x (amount of Gas) x Temperature,

  5. K (Absolute 0 temperature) = −273.15 °C / −459.67 °F),

    Nothing can be colder than absolute zero, etc

Computer

We invented the computer to do the number crunching for us. With the advance in technology, today, the computer has become ever closer to be omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. We depend the computer:

  1. To handle all the financial transactions,

  2. To search, store, and retrieve all the information we ever know,

  3. To communicate with anyone at anywhere from anyplace,

  4. To automate food producing and factory manufacturing operations, etc.

    The computer accomplishes all these tasks by using only two numbers – 0 and 1. They are implemented inside the computer as an ON/OFF switch. When billions of this simple switch are connected together in specific ways, the computer can be programmed to perform all the tasks to meet the demands of our ever-expanding man-made world.

Beyond Earth

Numbers help us:

  1. Make our daily activities meaningful (birth dates, holiday dates, anniversary dates), manageable (bank account #, social security #, driver license #), measurable (intelligence quotient, body’s vital signs, census),

  2. Understand how Nature works. The knowledge we gain enables us not only to enhance our chance of survival (agriculture, transportation, energy) but also to infuse life with purpose and meaning (family, friends, success, prosperity),

  3. Enjoy our life more with games (Poker, Black Jack, Bridge, Lottery) and sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball), etc.

    The numbers provide a reference that shows how our life can be traced to the Big Bang that created the Universe where our galaxy and solar system were later formed. The numbers reveal that we are a late comer in the whole process. We are still learning how to live in peace among ourselves and we are not yet ready to visualize our future beyond Earth.

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