Decimals. Easy I thought. After all I gave up Maths when I was 15 but I didn’t give up money. A couple of times over the next 20 years money gave up on me...but I tried to have as much of it as possible around. OK that’s not strictly true. No one who gets ordained is trying to have as much money as possible around, but I certainly haven’t ignored it.
Where would we be in the monetary department if it weren’t for decimal points? Spending a quid on a Mars Bar that’s where.
(If you’re reading this blog in the future, the previous sentence is a reference to the fact that Mars Bars used to cost less than a pound. Feel free to use it as evidence in any history essays you are currently writing. When I gave up Maths they only cost 20p. You can quote me on that one too. This blog is a veritable treasure chest of evidence. You’re probably quite grateful for that. I bet you’ve been trawling the internet for hours searching for historical confectionary based quotes. If it’s any consolation I know exactly how you feel. We’ve all been therewith sugary based snack related academic work. Although to be honest we probably haven’t spent as much time on the internet as you because in 2008 we used to quote books in our essays. That’s only because Wikipedia was so new. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting all nostalgic. 2008...simple times. I mean we were happy then, weren’t we? We might not have had neural backup and advertising wasn’t so good that you just had to open your door every day and there was stuff there that they had already worked out you wanted and then had to pay for but we had Lilly Allen. Damn it I miss those days. I miss Eskimo hats. I want to be 35 again. 2008 was just the best year ever. EVER EVER PEOPLE)
Anyone who has ever paid for anything that costs part of a pound has worked with decimals. They sorround everyone. Even mathophobics like me. Although compared to fractions they are a relatively modern invention. Several people did some work on them but it was a Dutch man by the name of Simon Stevin (a man for whom I feel no particular affinity) who produced the standard text on them. So it was someone else who came up with the whole dot thing and another person who came up with a comma thing and no one agreed and so it continues to this day (and probably into the future).
Working with them was easy enough. You just need to be able to remember where to put the dot. 0.2 X 0.3 is not 0.6 but 0.06. 0.3 x 0.7 is 0.21. The last dot there was full stop. So was that one.
It all went swimmingly until converting fractions into decimals. This is not hard just involves dividing the top by the bottom which I did not know. But then this is all about getting new skills. However the last exercise involved taking all the fractions such as one half, one third, one quarter all the way up to one twenty fifth and converting them to decimals to see which terminated and which recurred. Fine except that if your calculator only has 8 decimal places you have a problem because some of them recur in more than 8 so you’re just going to have to work that out yourself.
Did you know that some of them recur after 17 decimal places? 17! I mean what sort of sadistic bastards wrote this book.
Actually it doesn’t matter because I did it. Each and every bloody decimal places. I think you’ll find there, ladies and gentlemen that that makes me officially the winner!!!!
20p for a Mars Bar. Incredible really!