Sunday, 31 January 2021

measure by octave

Arguing that ordinary arithmetic, we learn from Futility Closet, had already become “mysterious to Women and Youths and often troublesome to the best Artists,” the Right Reverend Hugh Jones, Mathematics Professor at the College of William and Mary in colonial Williamsburg, strongly advocated the use of a base-eight system (rather than base-ten, which he incorrectly believed was universal to human reckoning) for weights and measures. His belief that eight was more harmonious and complete was an extension of Jones’ efforts at calendar reform, proposing a perpetual, perennial Georgian Calendar (after George II of Great Britain) of three-hundred sixty-four days, divided into thirteen months of twenty-eight days each—with a few intercalary days inserted every few years to correct for drift, believing that the Earth would orbit the Sun in a perfect circle instead of an ellipse on a neatly divisible cycle had God not been forced to visit the world with the Great Flood, which threw things off-kilter. Octave powers, instead of ones, tens, hundreds and so on, Jones proposed be called –ers, -ests, -thousets, with for example yard, yarder and yardests measuring distance or ounce, ouncer and ouncest for weight. Find more delectable curiosities at Futility Closet at the link up top.