Finger counting

HOW HIGH CAN YOU COUNT on your fingers? 10? Pah. I can count up to 1,023. Here’s how it’s done. It’s useful if you want to count the number of people who turned up to your birthday party, or count the number of times a politician says “family” in a speech.

1024Imagine each of your fingers has a number attached. From the thumb to the little finger, your right hand is numbered 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16. Your left hand is numbered 32, 62, 128, 256, 512.

Press down with your fingers as you count to increase the total. So, starting with your right hand, counting will go like this:

  1. thumb
  2. forefinger
  3. forefinger and thumb
  4. middle finger
  5. middle finger and thumb
  6. middle finger and forefinger
  7. middle finger, forefinger and thumb

…and so on. When you’ve used up all the fingers on your right hand you’ll have counted up to 31 (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16), move on to the left hand. Press down the thumb on that hand for 32, then continue to add digits from the right hand as before.

It’s just binary, but it allows you to count very much higher than the 10 you’d previously thought was the limit. With a little practice, you’ll be able to count without thinking about it.

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