Numbers Down

Stop counting your chickens, blessings and fingers say the experts.

Sep 20th, 2010 | By Paul Moth | Category: Featured

It doesn't add up ... numbers like these are disappearing

A report released today by the influential Arithmetic Association of Asia – the AAA – has thrown a scare into the ranks of mathematicians and financial experts.  According to the report, the world is running out of numbers.

“This scarcity of figures will have a chilling effect across the world,” claims Birjan Ondijattivan, head of AAA and the author of the report Where Have All The Numbers Gone?

“We have been profligate with our use of numbers for all things.  We did not realize they themselves were finite,” says Ondijattivan.

Phone numbers, children learning their multiplication tables in grade school, counting the angels on the head of a pin – all these exercises have depleted the world-wide supply of numbers.  But it was the move to digital in the 1990s that led to an exponential increase in the corporate extraction of numbers.  The stock market surge that followed exacerbated the situation, with exchanges around the world registering record numbers that have since burst.

“Unless we discover new and untapped supplies of integers, we will experience a number crunch of unparalleled magnitude,” says the AAA report.  “Finances will become vague, computers will grind to a halt, the study of astronomy or DNA or even the creation of simple charts will become impossible. We will not be able to count the numbers of people in the world or give them social security identification.  Not since the decline of Roman numerals has the world faced anything similar, and the results could be catastrophic.”

Some experts think we are already experiencing peak numeral and predict a rise in global tension as states try to secure new sources of digits.  As evidence, they point to the virtual exhaustion of whole numbers in most parts of the world.

Numerical depletion skeptics, like the US-based group John 3:16, say the report’s numbers are suspect, and blame the teaching of New Math and other forms of secular humanism for the confusion.

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