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Alejandro Vaquero Aviles-Casco

May 2, 2017

A non-physics problem, that anyway might give us a hard time thinking about

what is causal and what is casual in nature. The question is, why the following

quotient of numbers

987654321

= 8.0000000729 (1)

123456789

is so extremely close to an integer? Solution in the next page, so you can think

a bit about it.

1

2 Solution

Although Im not a mathematician and I might not known base concepts that

would simplify this explanation, I hope it is clear enough for you. The matter is

related to the fact that our numeration system is a base 10 system. The way we

construct these two numbers, 987654321 and 123456789 depends only on this.

For instance, if we used an octal system (base 8), we would write 1234567 and

7654321 as our numbers.

Of course with a different base, the numbers mean something different as

well, in the sense that the positions of the digits carry a different weight. The

most well known example is the binary system used in computers, which is base

2. You can check what the different numbers mean in different base in the

following table:

0 0 0 0 0

1 1 1 1 1

10 2 = 21 8 = 81 10 = 101 16 = 161

11 3 = 21 + 1 9 = 81 + 1 11 = 101 + 1 16 = 161 + 1

100 4 = 22 64 = 82 100 = 102 256 = 102

1000 8 = 23 512 = 83 1000 = 103 4096 = 103

In the first column I write a number combining the digits 0 and 1. This

numbers has different interpretations according to the base we use, as I try to

show in the following columns. For instance, 10 written in base 2 equals 2 in

base 10. In the end the equivalence is very simple: for base N each digit ranges

from 0 to N 1, and each time we advance one digit position, we add a factor

N to the weight. The position 0 always has weight 1 = N 0 , but as we move the

digits to the left, the weight increases potentially. This way, the position 1 has

weight N 1 = N , the position 2 has weight N 2 and the position k has weight

N k . Lets analyze the number 3572 this way, and see what 3572 means in the

different bases:

Weight base 8 83 82 81 80

Weight base 12 123 122 121 120

Weight base 16 163 162 161 160

Number base 8 3 83 5 82 7 81 2 80 = 1914

Number base 12 3 123 5 122 7 121 2 120 = 5990

Number base 16 3 163 5 162 7 161 2 160 = 13682

This way we can construct any number in any base. How would I write the

equivalent of quotient (1) for base N ? It would be for sure a different quotient,

with baseN numbers in numerator and denominator, with N 1 digits each

one of these numbers, like

2

(N 1) (N 2) (N 3) (. . .) (2) (1)

, (2)

(1) (2) (. . .) (N 3) (N 2) (N 1)

where the parenthesis mean that the number within is a digit belonging to the

bigger number, so if I wanted to write 1564 in this notation, I would write

(1)(5)(6)(4). The fraction (2) can be expressed in general as the sum

PN 1

i=1 iN i1

PN 1 . (3)

i=1 (N i) N i1

Solving this quotient we can find out the mystery of this apparent fine-tuning

of nature. In order to carry out these sums one can use the following trick

0

N 1 N 1 N 1

X X d i d X i

iN i1

= N = N with N 0 = N, (4)

i=1 i=1

dN dN i=1

where the N 0 was introduced so we dont derivate it. The sum inside the deriva-

tive is a geometrical sum, and we know how to solve it

X NN 1

N 1N i = , (5)

i=1

N 1

and its derivative

d NN 1 N N N 1 NN 1 N N +1 2N N + 1

= 2 = 2 , (6)

dN N 1 N 1 (N 1) (N 1)

so we solved the numerator. The denominator is just

N 1 N 1 N 1

X X X N N 1 N N +1 2N N + 1

(N i) N i1 = N i1 iN i1 = 2 =

i=1 i=1 i=1

N 1 (N 1)

N N +1 N N N + 1 N N +1 + 2N N 1 NN N

2 = 2, (7)

(N 1) (N 1)

that is, the difference between (5) and (4), so we have all the ingredients to

solve the quotient in an arbitrary base N . Lets do it

PN 1 N N +1 2N N +1

i=1 iN i1 (N 1)2

PN 1 = N N N

=

i=1 (N i) N i1 (N 1)2

N N +1 2N N + 1 N 2 + N1N

= N 2 + O (N 2 N )

NN N 1 N N11

The result is approximately an integer, and the correction to the result decrease

exponentially as the base increases, so in the end there is no magic at all.

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