Scientists untangle Inca number-strings ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Friday, August 12, 2005

Scientists untangle Inca number-strings

This is some pretty cool news for a couple of reasons:
Scientists untangle Inca number-strings.
It's a reminder that the Incans ruled a fairly large empire without the aid of the wheel or writing. Plus, Scrabble brand word game players will love the mention of "khipu", hopefully that'll soon the join word list alongside "quipu."

Also, I'm wondering if these two pieces of information:

Khipus encode numbers as knots in strings hanging from a cord. The closer a knot is to the cord, the higher its value, just as the number 1 can denote 1, 10, or 100 depending on its position.

Numerical value also depends on a knot's shape. Single overhand knots encode tens, hundreds or thousands. Single knots represent ones, and long knots with between 2 and 9 turns encode the numbers 2 to 9.

can be related to Benford's Law at all. I don't see one that really jumps out right now though.

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