How high can you count on your fingers?

How high can you count on your fingers? It seems like a question with an obvious answer. After all, most of us have ten fingers, or to be more precise, eight fingers and two thumbs. This gives us a total of ten digits on our two hands, which we use to count to ten. 

It’s no coincidence that the ten symbols we use in our modern numbering system are called digits as well. But that’s not the only way to count. In some places, it’s customary to go up to twelve on just one hand. How? Well, each finger is divided into three sections, and we have a natural pointer to indicate each one, the thumb. That gives us an easy to way to count to twelve on one hand. 

And if we want to count higher, we can use the digits on our other hand to keep track of each time we get to twelve, up to five groups of twelve, or 60.

Better yet, let’s use the sections on the second hand to count twelve groups of twelve, up to 144.

That’s a pretty big improvement, but we can go higher by finding more countable parts on each hand. For example, each finger has three sections and three creases for a total of six things to count. Now we’re up to 24 on each hand. 

And using our other hand to mark groups of 24 gets us all the way to 576. Can we go any higher? It looks like we’ve reached the limit of how many different finger parts we can count with any precision. So let’s think of something different.

One of our greatest mathematical inventions is the system of positional notation, where the placement of symbols allows for different magnitudes of value, as in the number 999. Even though the same symbol is used three times, each position indicates a different order of magnitude. So we can use positional value on our fingers to beat our previous record. Let’s forget about finger sections for a moment and look at the simplest case of having just two options per finger, up and down. This won’t allow us to represent powers of ten, but it’s perfect for the counting system that uses powers of two, otherwise known as ‘binary’. 

In binary, each position has double the value of the previous one, so we can assign our fingers values of 1, 2, 4, 8…all the way up to 512. And any positive integer, up to a certain limit, can be expressed as a sum of these numbers. For example, the number seven is 4+2+1. So we can represent it by having just these three fingers raised. How high an we go now? That would be the number with all ten fingers raised, or 1,023. Is it possible to go even higher? It depends on how dexterous you feel! If you can bend each finger just halfway, that gives us three different states -down, half bent, and raised. Now, we can count using a base-three positional system, up to 59,048. And if you can bend your fingers into four different states or more, you can get even higher. That limit is up to you, and your own flexibility and ingenuity.

Even with our fingers in just two possible states, we’re already working pretty efficiently. In fact, our computers are based on the same principle. Each microchip consists of tiny electrical switches that can be either on or off, meaning that base-two is the default way they represent numbers. And just as we can use this system to count past 1,000 using only our fingers, computers can perform billions of operations just by counting off 1’s and 0’s.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How high can you count on your fingers? (Spoiler: much higher than 10) - James Tanton

Animation by TED-Ed

# Counting 0 to 100 #

Just some notes about the numbers 0, 4, and 7:

Zero is れい (零)  but ゼロ or マル are more commonly used.

4 can be said as し or よん.
7 can be said as しち or なな.
Both ways are okay to use. But keep in mind, when you start combining numbers, the reading is almost always よん for 4 and なな for 7.

I’ve shown the kanji for each number first. You can really see a pattern after the number 10. 

# ━━━━━━━━━ #

0 れい or ゼロ or マル
1 一 (いち)  
2 二 (に)  
3 三 (さん)  
4 四 (よん or し)
5 五 (ご)  
6 六 (ろく)  
7 七 (なな or しち)  
8 八 (はち)  
9 九 (きゅう)  
10 十 (じゅう)  

Numbers 11 through 19:
Say “10, 5” for 15 or “10, 6” for 16, etc..

11 十一 (じゅういち)  
12 十二 (じゅうに)  
13 十三 (じゅうさん)  
14 十四 (じゅうよん)  
15 十五 (じゅうご)  
16 十六 (じゅうろく)  
17 十七 (じゅうなな)  
18 十八 (じゅうはち)  
19 十九 (じゅうきゅう)  

Numbers 20 through 90:
Say “3, 10” for 30 or “5, 10” for 50, etc..

20 二十 (にじゅう)  
30 三十 (さんじゅう)  
40 四十 (よんじゅう)  
50 五十 (ごじゅう)  
60 六十 (ろくじゅう)  
70 七十 (ななじゅう)  
80 八十 (はちじゅう)  
90 九十 (きゅうじゅう)  

100 百 (ひゃく)  

━━━━━━━━━ #

To make a number like 77, say “70, 7” as 七十七  (ななじゅうなな).
Here’s how you read the following numbers:

37 = 三十七 (さんじゅうなな)
92 = 九十二 (きゅうじゅうに)
24 = 二十四 (にじゅうよん)

Can you say?:

53 = ______
81 = ______
49 = ______

Not too bad, right? (。•́‿•̀。)

@juniorjum-at made a comment about anti’s who complain about the number of movies Tony Stark is in so let’s do a character run down for the main Avengers. 

Tony Stark: Iron Man 1, 2, 3, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Civil War. 6 so far, and he’s set to be in Spiderman Homecoming, and Infinity Wars. So in the future 8. 

Steve Rogers: The first Avenger, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, Civil War. 5 so far, only one less than Tony. He’s set to be in Infinity Wars as well so that brings us up to 6. 

Natasha Romaoff(Romanov): Iron Man 2, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, Civil War. also 5 so far (still deserves bigger parts and her own movie but that’s another issue entirely). She is also set to be in Infinity Wars and Spiderman Homecoming (not verified) so that brings her total to 6/7.

Thor: Thor, Thor: the dark world, The Avengers, Age of Ulton. Only 4 for Thor, but he’s set to be in Infinity Wars, and Thor: Ragnorak. So that’s 6, not to mention the Civil War skits. 

Bruce Banner: The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Age of Ultron. Also 4 so far. He’s set to be in Infinity Wars, and Ragnorak, so that brings him up to 6 as well. 

Clint Barton: The Avengers, Thor, Age of Ultron. Clint loses at only 3 appearances in MCU so far, and he’s set to be in Infinity Wars, bringing his total to 4. 

Not original Avengers who show up in a lot of movies.

James Rupert Rhodes: Iron Man 1, 2, 3, Age of Ultron, Civil War. That’s 5 movies so far. He’s not set to be in Infinity Wars or Homecoming as far as I know (I’m ready to fight someone over this)

Sam WIlson: The Winter Soldier, Ant Man, Age of Ultron, Civil War. 4 so far, set to be in Infinity War, bringing his total to 5

T’challa: Civil War. Just 1 so far, but we’re set to see him in Black Panther, and Infinity Wars so that’ll be 3. 

James Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Civil War, The First Avenger. That’s 3. Set to be in Infinity War, so 4

Scott Lang: Antman, Civil War. That’s 2, set to be in Infinity Wars, and Antman 2. Total of 4. 

The main point here is that yes Tony is in the most movies but all of them are in a lot of movies that’s what makes it so cool and exciting. Your favorite character might show up in any Marvel movie you see. 

Secondary Point, James Rhodes deserves more of a presence in fandom, and his own movie. Natasha also deserves her own movie. And the OOC version of Clint the MCU dreamed up is in the fewest movies. 

Honorary mention

Stan Lee: Literally all of them. He’s in all the Marvel movies. All of them.

Counting in Lenca!

1 pis             11 Isis-la-pis                 21 Wamasta-la-pis

2 pe              12 isis-la-pe                 30 Wamasta-la-isis

3 lawa           13 isis-la-lawa             40 Ku-pis

4 sa               14 isis-la-sa                 50 Ku-pis-la isis

5 tz’ai            15 isis-la-tz’ai              60 ku-pis-wamasta

6 wi               16 isis-la-wi                 70 ku-pis-wamasta-la-isis

7 wiska          17 isis-la-wiska           80 ku-pe

8 tepka          18 isis-la tepka            90 ku-pe-la-isis

9 kalapa         19 isis-la-kalapa         100 Ku-pe-wamasta

10 isis             20 wamasta

Counting in Spanish

1= uno

 2= dos 

3= tres 

 4= cuarto

 5= cinco 

6= seis 

 7= siete 

 8= ocho 

 9= nueve 

10= diez

 11= once 

12= doce 

13= trece 

14= catorce 

 15= quince 

16= dieciséis

 17= diecisiete 

18= dieciocho

 19= diecinueve 

 20= viente

 21= veintiuno 

22= veintidós

 23= veintitrés

 24= veinticuatro

 25= veinticinco 

 26= veintiséis

 27= veintisiete 

 28= veintiocho

 29= veintinueve

 30= treinta 

 31= treinta y uno 

32= treinta y dos 

 33= treinta y tres 

 34= treinta y cuatro 

 35= treinta y cinco 

 36= treinta y seis

 37= treinta y siete 

 38= treinta y ocho 

 39= treinta y nueve 

 40= cuarenta 

 50= cincuenta 

 60= sesenta 

70= setenta 

 80= ochenta 

 90= noventa 

 100= cien 

101= ciento uno 

 102= ciento dos 

103= ciento tres 

104= ciento cuarto 

 105= ciento cinco 

 111= ciento once

 112= ciento doce 

113= ciento trece 

 200= doscientos 

 300= trescientos

 400= cuatrocientos

 500= quinientos 

 600= seiscientos 

 700= setecientos

 800= ochocientos 

 900= nuevecito 

 1,000= mil

 2017= dos mil diecisiete