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The number is a man made cultural construction which has no inherent relationship to the physical world. There are no NUMBERS in the universe and if you asked the universe if it wanted any it would respond with a long deep whispery silence. Numbers have no relationship to the spiritual world as God is dead over a century now my friend. It does have a relationship to the psychological world as numbers have feelings. Fragile shattered feelings.
The history of simple numbers starts from hungry nomads counting sheep to warriors counting lost teeth and enging with Saudi Arabian sultans counting their children. None of these counting systems included a zero as no one needed to count something that they had none of. The invention of the zero propelled numbers from an already abstract concept to a radioactive intellectual hysteria. It is impossible to find one single object in your house that could have arrived where it is without the digit zero. Though this is strange...as there are no inherant zeros in the universe...so how did it get there?
Then suddenly there are creepy decimal places. Dangerous negative numbers. Violent abstract algebra. Imagine how difficult it would be to measure the radius of your coffee mug without the digit zero! Think about that when you wake up at five in the morning with three children screaming in their pee soaked pajamas.
Numbers are increasingly becoming more complicated as binary code is now in our veins and Korean students are calculus masters by the age of seven. In two generations a Korean will estimate the circumference of the moon simply by looking at it. Koreans will travel to the moon by grabbing onto cosmic zeros as they propel through space at the speed of light. Americans will be left behind.
We have ten fingers and thus a tool to count to ten. Or...with one had...up to five. When a man loses one of his fingers he is disadvantaged in counting ability unless he employs his mind. Tribal people took decades before anyone thought about tallying a number on their fingers...and centuries before some bored dude counted numbers in their head without Sesame Street or coloured building blocks.
Tribes never counted people as the number was irrelevant. Their village did not consist of 20 tribesmen and tribeswomen but instead comprised of: Umnmbo, Wa-owa-owa-we, OOaaoowoo, (click)-wa-(click), mmmka, xtn?noo'aa, mne@t¬k'ñe?¡ etc. The number didn't matter as they knew each other so well. In fact for them...they were the only humans who existed.
When nomadic tribes began to herd sheep they started to keep a rough tab on the amount they had, so that in the evening they would know if one of their sheep had been mauled by a fox or a hungry pregnant woman or perhaps the depressed sheep walked away slowly into the sea. The big breakthrough in both numbers and Western civilization was when a shepherd decided to destroy his fellow shepherd's sheep or steal them all for himself. This was when counting became important. Both property and patriarchy were born at that very moment. The numbers were first called mine, mine-mine, mine-mine-mine, mine-mine-mine-mine etc. and eventually came to have names with somewhat more diverse sounds. Modernity is inevitable once numbers take on human sounds.
The slave who created the '0'
The written form of zero was invented when a Greek mathematician was asked by a slave how much money he would be given once he finished his servitude. The greek immediately lashed the boy for speaking without asking permission. He then laughed and said nothing...zero. He also decided to write it down on a piece of paper and nail it into his slave's skull as a clear reminder. Happy for his creation (the number zero) he hugged his slave with joy. The two jumped up and down shouting eureka! The mathematician then took the slave by the hand and threw him in the dungeon for jumping up and down without permission. Within one generation the Parthenon, the Pyramids and grastic-intestinal plumbing was invented. Then followed the census, house numbers and individually numbered Harry Potter movies.
Negative numbers and Fractions
Once money lending became the vogue of the merchant class, one had to find a way to keep track of who owed who what. Positive and negative numbers would do the trick and negatives were written with red ink made from the blood of the debtor. Most people were rather terrified of negative numbers and they were never mentioned outside of banks and Jewish households. Fractions allowed Greeks to calculate the exact time it would take to go Island hopping, allowed Romans to calculate the percentage of gladiator body not consumed by tigers and helped Romans divide eight slices of pizza among nine people.
Weird counting systems which will disappear
The Chinese had their own counting system using abacai and bizarre decimal placements as complicated as their civil service. The Mayans counted using 20 as their alternative and attention seeking base. They counted their ten fingers and their ten toes before adding a decimal place while counting the rolling heads bouncing down the steps of their lovely pyramids on warm and sunny days.
List of numbers
List of numbers alphabetically in English
List of numbers as seen by dyslexic people
The future of numbers
The next step after the zero, negative numbers, decimal places and binary code will probably be the invention of non-existent numbers. Nietzsche and Sartre began their tretei (snobby plural for treaty) on the very topic but were condemned or sent to insane asylums for their loony rantings and ravings about things that don't exist and their awful personal higene.
Non-existent numbers will be used to plug all the holes in string theory, the even bigger holes in the European common market and for the Americans to pretend their giant debt doesn't exist. Non existent numbers will probably be written as follows:
List of non-existent numbers
Negative non-existent numbers
Negative non-existent numbers are so theoretical that a slightest breeze knocks over the tower of numerical dignity. A negative non-existent number is what you would refer to as the inverse of a double negative. While a double negative in English grammar results in an affirmative substantive noun phrase, a negative non-existent number results in losing dozens of brain cells for every second you imagine them. If you meditate on them long enough you will have wasted the amount of time necessary to learn Chinese. We cannot be left behind.
List of negative non-existent numbers
Time line of the history of numbers
Starting around 100,000 B.C. numbers do not exist. In 5,0000 B.C. mere minutes after God provokes Cain into murdering his brother...Cain counts his newly acquired sheep. God is not pleased.
Around the time of the Mesopotamian modern civilization is created along with philosophy, art and mass enslavement. Numbers do very well in this time as each landowner tries to out do one another with the highest quantity of indentured servants reaping rice and barley in the autumn.
In 1952 A.D. the number pi is calculated to over 1,000,000,000,000 digits providing no applicable use to humanity though though offering a modest 100,000 dollar prize. In 1965 A.D. Non-existent numbers are discovered by cigarette smoking post-modernists who baffle the world in their three hundred page treatise on the issue that lacks any mention of mathematics or coherent arguments. By 2009 A.D. the greatest breakthrough in social mathematic higene brings the discovery of negative non-existent numbers keeping mathematicians in their offices and away from creeped out ladies.