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Minbari Math


Do the Minbari use a different style of mathematics than humans do? I seem to recall Lennier using the number eleventieth or eleventeenth or something. I've also noticed that he can't count approaching ships very well. He's always like "Five..., no six. Six enemy vessels."

Hmm, maybe it's just him. /forums/images/icons/rolleyes.gif
Maybe he just didn't know English very well in season 1? Eleventeen would actually make sense if you learned that the 10's in English normally had a "teen" in the name - though for old and out of date reasons, the first three do not fit the rule at all (and the rest are still confusing since the second digit takes precedence in the beginning of the word unlike most numbers). Kind of like little kids who say "I sleeped all night!" They are following propper grammer rules - just not they have not yet learned the exceptions.

I would imagine the Minbari (and the Narn and the Centauri and many of the Legue) use a base 10 system (even if people like the Minbari have special emphasis on 3's and 9's) since they all have 10 digits on their hands. That's why we use 10. A race with only 8 digits would probably be base 8, a race with 12 base 12, etc. A race that didn't have many (if any) digits would probably use a multiple of some number that related to their anatomy.

Of course, the Centauri could count in base 6 - for obvious reasons, heh. /forums/images/icons/wink.gif I'd still guess they'd count in base 10 since it's probably more desirably to get a higher anatomical number to start with ... and probably less worry about awakard situations counting the other way. Maybe they use base 16?

Yeah, the only reason why base 10 works so well ... is because our system was designed that way. Systems with bases near 10 (too high or too low probably would be troublesome) would work just as fine and in the same way.
Oh, and yes I noticed that about Lennier counting enemy ships ... in today's SciFi rerun when the four Shadow vessels came out of Hyperspace, I actually waited and listened to hear if Lennier said "I read three, no four Shadow ships." /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif He didn't though.
It would also depend on whether their computer systems used Binary code. Our's is obviously binary due to our decimal system. Using 16 as a base would probably complicate things somewhat. It may well be that base number 10 would be used simply because its easy enough to use.
Basenumber 16 is used a lot in our computer systems, since this is the hexadecimal system. Going from binary to hexadecimal is not so difficult since 2^4 = 16.

he says how many there are when they're jumping in, so when he says 3 ships, there are only 3 ships on his sensors, but before he can say ships, a 4th jumps in, it's not that big of a thing, but yea, 11teenth is funny.
The Minbari use a base 11 system:

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
<font color="orange">From JMS:
Minbari use base 11, not base 10, so twelve would be eleventy-first year, and so on.

Minbari base eleven includes fingers and head, from which the principle of mathematics comes.

You're also looking at this from a strictly English-speaking perspective; in German, for instance, 21 is "Ein und Zwanzig" (pardon any misspellings in there, it's been a while) which is exactly the same structure, albeit reversed, used for Minbari counting (and, in fact, is more or less what I based his "statement" on).

Eleventy-seven = Eighteen base ten.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven
Eleventy-one, eleventy-two, eleventy-three, eleventy-four, eleventy- five, eleventy-six, eleventy-seven, eleventy-eight, eleventy-nine, eleventy-ten, twelfy

Twelfty-one, twelfty-two, twelfy-three, twelfty-four, twelfty-five, twelfty-six, twelfty-seven, twelfty-eight, twelfty-nine, twelfty-ten.

And so on.

Who here still has a problem with this? </font color>

Actually, I still have a problem. The problem occurs on counting from zero when I reach twelfty-five. The essence of the problem: I forget about Minbari number systems and start wondering what number system the Shadows use. /forums/images/icons/tongue.gif

Just binary, according to their number of fingers (which Shadow appendages count as fingers, and how many are there) or according to something else? Or perhaps they do fluent conversions across all bases, and choose the one which is most convenient?
The minbari probably do I seem to remember the same thing but I don't remember the episode where Lennier counts anyway I wouldn't doubt it he is an alien.
It was the one where Londo offers Lennier the benefit of his vast experience and takes him gambling in the casino, I think.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Of course, the Centauri could count in base 6 - for obvious reasons


Right, just like we count in base 1. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Our's is obviously binary due to our decimal system.


If that were the criteria we'd use computer code that was also base 10. Computers use binary because electical switches (including transitions) only have two states, on or off. Therefore any code written to be processed by an aggregate of such switches can have only two values 1 & 0, Yes & No, Up & Down.


There are devices which use more base states. With our technology, binary ones are just incredibly simpler.

If some species would base their technology on radically different processes, seeing a non-binary computer might be quite possible.
I think there is a rare form of logic out there in which there are three options. Basically it went something like this:
0%-33% is setting 1
34%-66% is 2
67%-100% is 3.

Not a yes/no or on/off anymore. I'm not sure if this is the same thing as fuzzy logic or not. Tertiary logic. /forums/images/icons/confused.gif

And I have no idea if it is used for anything, or if it is just something that some bored mathematician came up with one day.
Tertiary calcualtions can definitely be simulated on binary machines. I was, however, thinking of electronic components with more base states. If memory serves, some have three and some five, but neither are common in practise.

Another example: somebody might be using optical computers which accept the following base states: violet, blue, green, yellow, red, orange. For them, base 6 would be the most convenient number system.

DNA based computers would have four base states: Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine (spelling probably incorrect, I have rarely read genetics in English).
3 state electronics is rarely used for logic but it is used for:
a. backplanes - One/Zero/Not sending
b. communications, it allows the signal and the clock to be sent at the same time down a single wire.
c. on magnetic tapes, just a very weird wire.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
There are devices which use more base states. With our technology, binary ones are just incredibly simpler.


There are such devices now, but there weren't at the time the electronic binary computer was being invented. Since advances in computer technology have been incremental over 50 plus years, we're still working primarily with binary systems. Everything we've done has been built on what went before, and the starting point was on/off vacuum tubes and binary code.

At some point we will no doubt move past this. (I seriously doubt the computers aboard a station like B5 would be simple binary devices, for instance.)


I'm still trying to think about how different Adronato grammar is from anything we see on Earth. It HAS to be, it's alien...

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