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by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

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This is the story of Robert... Robert has a new teacher – Mr. Bockel. Mr. Bockel loves to eat pretzels. He also loves to torture Robert with problems about Roberts least favorite thing...

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3 6 NUMBERS! Luckily for Robert, he meets in a dream someone who can help him

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THE NUMBER DEVIL!

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The First Night

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The thing that makes numbers so devilish is that they are simple. All you have to do is start with one. You can make all of the numbers out of one. Try it! 1 x 1 = 1

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Now try: 11 x 11 = 121 Now try this: 111 x 111 = 12,321 What do you think will happen if you do this? 1,111 x 1,111 = 1,234,321 or this: 11,111 x 11,111 = 123,454,321

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Now You Try! How many ones do you need to multiply to get a six? 111,111 x 111,111 = 12,345,654,321 What about 7, 8, and 9? 1,111,111 x 1,111,111 = 1,234,567,654,321 11,111,111 x 11,111,111 = 123,456,787,654, ,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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The Second Night

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Although The Number Devil showed Robert how to make all of the numbers from one, something is still missing... Do you know what it is?

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0 Zero was the last number to be discovered. The ancient Romans didnt have zero. They wrote their numbers like this: 1986 = MCMLXXXVI

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Our numbers are much easier to write because we use zero, and our numbers hop. Hop?

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Number Hopping Number hopping is really easy! Try one: 1 = 1 1 x 1 = 1 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 Dont see it?

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Number Hopping Try Two: 2 = 2 2 x 2 = 4 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16 See it? 2 1 = = = = 16

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Number Hopping Now try it with 10: 10 1 = = = 1,000 Now make 10 hop four times: 10 4 = 10,000

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Number Hopping Thats the beauty of zero. It lets you hold a space and move on. You can always tell a numbers value by its position: –The farther to the left it is, the more its worth; the farther to the right it is, the less its worth.

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Number Hopping Remember 1986? Heres how it hops: 6 x 1 = 6 8 x 10 = 80 9 x 100 = x 1,000 = 1, ,000 = 1986

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The Third Night

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Now that we know about zero, there is one thing we cannot do with zero! Any guesses? We cannot divide by zero. It is strictly forbidden!

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Now that weve dealt with zero and one, what about the rest of the numbers? On this third night The Number Devil decided to tell Robert a secret.

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There are two types of numbers - the garden variety, which can be divided evenly, and the rest, which cannot. These numbers are such prima donnas! Lets see if we can find all the prima donnas up to 50.

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First we take out all of the even numbers because they are divisible by 2. Dont forget that 2 is a prima donna number.

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Now do 3. 3 is a prima donna number, but we can take out all the other numbers divisible by 3.

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We dont have to bother with 4 because 4 is 2 x 2, so they are already gone. 5 is a prima donna, so take out all the numbers that end in 5.

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We can forget about 6, 6 is 2 x 3, but 7 is a prima donna number so take out any numbers divisible by 7.

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Well, there you have it – the prima donnas!

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See how helpful The Number Devil was to Robert? Want to see what else The Number Devil shows Robert? Want to know The Number Devils name? Curious? Get the book!

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by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

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Technology & The Number Devil Robert used a calculator to help him with The Number Devils lessons. The first mechanical calculator was invented in 1642 by the French Mathematician Blaise Pascal. He called it The Pascaline.

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