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How To Count To 12 With Only One Hand!

Updated on November 12, 2013
Hand with key
Hand with key

Can you count to twelve using the fingers of one hand only?

Did you ever wonder why our ancestors did things in twelves all the time (a dozen eggs, 12 inches in a foot, etc)?

Presented here is a 'secret' known to our forefathers, but largely lost in our modern world of computers and calculators.

The secret is in fact, simple: use your fingers...

Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking: "well I knew that - duh!"

"But wait!", I say.

Have a look at your hands for a moment.

Yes, 4 fingers and a thumb.

Boring, I know, but have a closer look at those fingers.

In case you haven't noticed before, they bend in the middle and as you can see, are made up of 3 bones each - and that's the secret to counting to 12.

Remember that other thing sticking out from your hand, your thumb?

That's the second part of the puzzle.

In this "How To", you'll learn how to use your thumb in combination with your finger bones, to count up to twelve ...and beyond.

If you're clever, you can either use your other hand for handling whatever you are counting, or you can count up the number of "12s" you have made with the first hand!

Photo credit: Hands, courtesy Flickr.

Time required: 1 minute

Difficulty: easy

Cost: Costs nothing!

Materials:

  • 1 hand

Instructions:

1. Place your thumb on the tip of your first finger - count "1"

2. Move your thumb to the tip of your second finger - count "2"

3. Continue across your fingers, counting as you go

4. When you get to your fourth finger, go back to the first finger, but move your thumb down to the middle bone, between the two knuckles

5. Count across the middles and when you get to the end, bring your thumb back to the first finger and down to the bone closest to your palm

6. When you get to your little finger for the last time, you will be at "12" - if not, then you either can't count or you have some fingers missing...

7. If you are still stuck, then you can always enter the modern era by getting an abacus!

Can you count to 12 on one hand, or do you have a different system of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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    • Tim Bader profile image
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      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @favored: And a great number it is!

      Of course, there are lots of significant numbers in the bible, 1, 3, 7, 12, 50 - all worthy of an article in themselves (hmm, I may have an idea there!)

      Thanks for reading.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @favored: I hadn't heard of Johnny Carson (that's me being British), but when I grew up there was a guy called Johnny Ball, who did a show called "Think of a Number" - you can guess the content ;)

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Johnny Carson used to have amazing info with numbers on some of his programs. The counting ones like this article were always interesting.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      @ecogranny: Actually 7 is a biblical number of perfection, so many people took on that philosphy.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Heidi Vincent: That's great.

      Thank you for helping promote it! :)

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Really intriguing, tim-bader-982! I pinned it to Squidoo's 'Culture & Society' Pinterest Board & one of my own Boards! Great lens! So you can go see yourself in the lime light :)

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @poutine: Thanks ;)

    • profile image

      poutine 3 years ago

      Interesting.....

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @ecogranny: That's a very good question and one which could probably take up another lens (hm, I think I have an idea...).

      Look up anything about the number 7 and you'll find it crops up everywhere: days of the week, to colours of the rainbow, to various key values in science and more.

      To my mind, it used most often in the Bible, where it is seen as the "divine" or "perfect" number: 7 days of creation, 7 heavens, 7 spirits of God, etc, etc.

      I could go on, but I'd run out of space here - thanks for reading!

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @cpa13: Glad you found it useful.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @David Stone1: You're welcome.

      Glad you learnt something new from it.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan!

    • Joebeducci profile image

      Joebeducci 3 years ago

      That's so cool, never thought of it! Greets, Joebeducci

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Joebeducci: Thank you very much - it's cool to be cool! ;)

    • cpa13 profile image

      cpa13 3 years ago

      I got a kick out of this little known info. :-)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Well, that's interesting and entirely new to me. Nice to learn something. Thanks.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Very cool! I agree with Brite-Ideas - this would be very fun to share with kiddos.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Well that solves the mystery of twelves, and I thank you for the counting lesson. Love it! Any idea why there are so many sevens in ancient history?

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Brite-Ideas: Glad you found it helpful/inspiring!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I'm going to show my youngest son this page, lol