The binary number system uses two symbols—0 and 1—instead of the ten symbols used in the decimal numbering system. As Math Is Fun explains, “There is no 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 in Binary!”
So how do you count in binary?
A binary of 0 is 0. A binary of 1 is 1. A binary of 2 is 10. A binary of 3 is 11. A binary of 4 is 100. And the counting continues: 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010… A brief summary of counting in binary from Study.com:
“To count in binary, you start with 0, then you go to 1. Then you add another digit, like you do in decimal counting when you go from 9 to 10. You add another digit, so you have two digits now. So, in binary, you go from 1 to 10 since 1 is your last counting number.”
This 3D-printed analog binary counter, shared by @henryhachihung in 2016, demonstrates the pattern up to 63 or 111111 (in Base-10).
When a number is flipped upside-down, its latch falls down. When a number is flipped again, the latch should fall to its side, catching the next number when it flips again. It’s a simple bit of engineering, as long as the latches are heavy enough to fall into each position.
From 2008, here’s a wooden analog binary counter that latches more smoothly. It includes music and annotation.
But when and why do we use the binary number system? From Britannica:
“The importance of the binary system to information theory and computer technology derives mainly from the compact and reliable manner in which 0s and 1s can be represented in electromechanical devices with two states—such as ‘on-off,’ ‘open-closed,’ or ‘go–no go.'”
Watch this next: How exactly does binary code work?
Plus, a few more related videos:
• Binary Marble Adding Machine
• The Story of Zero – Getting Something from Nothing
• One is one…or is it?
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