Thursday, June 5, 2008

Symbols of the present.

Symbols seem to surround us, from traffic signs to restroom and directional arrows. We have chemical symbols, warning symbols, the hazard diamond just in my field of chemistry. What about numbers? They are symbols as well based on an Arabic decimal system from the ninth century. Think about the symbols 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0. (remember that zero is a fairly new idea in numbers) What exactly do they mean? The first numeral system was probably tally marks. Marking one line for each counted item would have become unruly after the first hundred or so, at least very monotonous. Somewhere along the line, somebody made the decision to make another kind of mark mean some number of other marks. Revolutionary. World changing thought occurred in that instant. Something to think about. Around the same time, addition and subtraction must have been born, giving rise to mathematics. Mathematics is rife with symbols, all with their own life and system of operation. The next time you dial your cell phone, think about the symbol you have just used, as well as the status symbol you hold to make the call. Humans use symbols for many things, the list is constantly changing as well, evolving as we speak. The letters you are reading are symbols of the language that is fast becoming world-wide.
Something to think about...

Shey hoy

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