Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Base-60 Alphanumerics

Use base-60 for counting system and phonemic alphabet
 
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Ok, part of this idea was baked by the Babylonians, but there are a couple of modern additions that make it a neat idea.

First, convert base-60 to balanced notation (well, semi-balanced, since to be truly balanced it needs an odd base) -- instead of symbols corresponding to 0-59(decimal), you use 0-30(decimal) and a negative dot that can go under the number. To illustrate using the letters A-T as 10(decimal) through 30(decimal) and a minus sign instead of a dot, the numbers from 0-60(decimal) would be:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, 1(-S), 1(-R), 1(-Q), 1(-P), 1(-O), 1(-N), 1(-M), 1(-L), 1(-K), 1(-J), 1(-I), 1(-H), 1(-G), 1(-F), 1(-E), 1(-D), 1(-C), 1(-B), 1(-A), 1(-9), 1(-8), 1(-7), 1(-6), 1(-5), 1(-4), 1(-3), 1(-2), 1(-1), 10

This shrinks the multiplication tables normally needed for base-60. It also reduces the number of digits necessary to display repeating "decimals."

Next, we link each sexagesimal symbol to a phoneme (Thanks -- and apologies -- to juuitchan3 and his "Alphabet Base"). In English, there are around 36 pure phonemes, so if we set aside one for each symbol between 0-30 (decimal), we have 31, with five left over. We can represent the remaining phonemes as the following:

1. A negative dot underneath a symbol (by itself, subtraction, inverted it is addition)

2. A number dot that goes in front of a string of symbols (normal words do not have dot)

3. An inversion dot over the first symbol, which either means a proper name or (in a number) an inverse operation.

4. A symbol that stands for multiplication (inverted, division).

5. A symbol that stands for a power (inverted, a root)

The result is a combination phonemic alphabet and number system. Phone numbers would be handy for businesses and easy to remember for normal people. A six-digit number would be 2-4 syllables (usually) and long enough (60^6) to give almost everyone on the planet 10 phone numbers. The most common numbers -- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 -- would all go evenly into the base, simplifying many mathematical operations. All sorts of clever mnemonics would come out of treating words and numbers similarly, and spelling would be a lot easier.

mrouse, Nov 22 2002

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       Maybe I'm a closet neophobe but. . .NOOOOOOO! i have a strong hate for alternative bases. i think we do quite well with the numbers we have. all this could produce is mass chaos. and smoke coming out of ears all OVER the place.
notme, Nov 22 2002
  

       Binary is good.
8th of 7, Nov 22 2002
  

       For all I know, this is a riff on [waugskueke]'s Ficticious Sports Reports.
snarfyguy, Nov 22 2002
  

       I think it would be fun to read things like "The seven numbers you can't say on television," stock market reports censored for being too risque, and parents opposed to teaching kids mathematical operations involving "naughty" numbers.
mrouse, Nov 22 2002
  

       Can this somehow also involve our 60 minute clock, or am I on the wrong track?
snarfyguy, Nov 22 2002
  

       I rather prefer octal over decimal. You can divide it by two indefinitely without running into rounding issues. Plus, it's simply more musically satisfying.
RayfordSteele, Nov 22 2002
  

       >Can this somehow also involve our 60 minute clock, or am I on the wrong track?   

       Sure! On a digital clock, you would have one symbol in the seconds spot (0-30 and the minus dot), one symbol in the minute soot, and one symbol in the hour spot (good for a 24-hour clock). It would look something like F:7:-A.   

       If we started using base-60 in our measurements, we could look down on the Metric system with contempt! (Well, the French anyway) Fractions would be a lot easier to convert, and things like a third of a "meter" or a twelfth of a "liter" wouldn't have those darned repeating decimals.
mrouse, Nov 22 2002
  

       Why not use Base 0 and have no numbers, get rid of math!
JoeLounsbury, Nov 12 2003
  

       This wouldn't destroy math, actually it would be quite intresting!...
Ossalisc, Mar 25 2004
  
      
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