Basic communication

“Ah, yes, the universal translator seems to now be attuned to both of our languages. Now we may begin our cultural exchange.”

“Absolutely! So, let’s start with the basics. How do you represent numbers?”

“Most cultures on our planet use a system where we write our numbers out in a string of digits, where the most-significant digit comes first, and the number itself is the sum of each digit multiplied by the base to the power of its position from the right.”

“Ah, interesting. Our common notation is quite similar. And how many digits do you have in your number system?”


“Oh, what a coincidence! We use a 10-digit system as well.”

“Curious. How did you arrive at that number of digits?”

“Well, we each have 10 phalanges on our distal manipulators, so it was a fairly convenient means for our number system to develop.”

“Ah, the same for us. … Except, ah, you only seem to have 8 phalanges.”

“What’s 8?”

“The number after 7?”

“Oh, strange. You see, we call that number ‘10.’”


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