Wednesday, May 2, 2012

24 is the new 18 and 49 is really 31

Apparently 24 is the new 18.  It has something to do with the brain not being fully developed until the age of 24, or kid's living with their parents longer, or just irresponsible behavior of the under 24 crowd.  You might think it is related to the "40 is the new 30" or "50 is the new 40" etc. movements, but I think I have a better explanation.

The reason for all of this age confusion has to do with the "Internet Generation".  Our lives are now fully immersed in computer technology: we work on computers, get entertainment from computers, shop on computers, bank on computers, even our phones are computers.  And guess what?  Computers count different then we do.  People use their ten fingers for counting (decimal) while computers use 1's and 0's.  As a compromise, programmers use "hex" numbers to talk to computers.

  • "Dec" means "old way to count"
  • "Hex" means "new way to count" 
Using you Windows calculator, we can see how this works.  

 Enter "24" in the Calculator (in programmer mode on Windows 7 or scientific mode on Windows XP)

Select "Hex" and the new number is 18.

A more interesting case for me is 49.  Converting to Hex, we get "49 is the new 31".

On the other end, "16 is the new 10".  This can be confirmed by driving by your local high school.  The kid's look like they're 10 years old.  This new counting system is obviously more appealing to anyone in their mid 30's or older.  Try your age, but be prepared to see numbers like "1E" and "2A".  This is explained below.

(WARNING: math is involved after this point)

"Hex" is short for "Hexidecimal", which is a counting system based on the number 16.  This works for computers since using four digits of 1's and 0's gives you 16 digits, and the brilliant people who invented all this stuff decided 16 was easier for us humans.  Since there are only ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), we need 6 more numbers.  For these, A, B, C, D, E, and F are used.  See the table below for equivalent numbers from 0 to 16.

Decimal Hexidecimal Binary (1's and 0's)

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