# Single Digits

Yesterday I awoke to a temperature of 1 degree F. This morning we are basking in a relatively balmy 5 degree F. Which has me thinking about digits, single in specific but also digits in general.

When I studied “new math” in the old days we called them “tens and ones.” Maybe I’ve just forgotten, but I don’t think we used the term “place value.” Then again, the “new math” I studied in grammar school was discontinued by the time I reached junior high.

The word digit, though — it’s been around a while. And I thought of it yesterday not only because the temperature was in the single digits but also because the temperature most *affected* my digits. My fingers and toes were aching with the cold after my single-digit walk (nine minutes, tops) from Metro to the office.

So this post is a paean to digits, to the fingers and toes, the most exposed; to the basic unit of measure, the original abacus; to the root of digital and all the good things (!) that derive from it.

We start with the body and move ever outward. Just think how far we’ve come.

## One thought on “Single Digits”

And the humblest, binary digits (bits)—values either zero or one—enable the near-magical computing systems that secure the skies and challenge space, and even make possible this blog machine. But the truly magical is in the imagination that can detect the thread from the origins of math to a one, not zero, reading on the home thermometer, to the humble magnificence of our fingers and toes.