beanz Magazine

Binary What?

Paul Cross on Flickr

Dive into the nitty-gritty details of binary numbers: how they work, why they’re used, and where they come from.

When you see a letter A on your computer screen, did you know the computer doesn’t actually use the letter A? Instead, it uses a unique string of numbers 01000001 for A. This is called a binary number because it uses two numbers, 0 and 1, to represent the letter A.

Computers transport, calculate, and translate binary numbers because computer hardware circuits only have two electrical states, on or off. These two states can be represented as zero (off) or one (on). All letters of the alphabet, numbers, and symbols are converted to unique eight (or more) character binary numbers as you use software on your computer.

You can have fun with binary numbers without diving deeply into how computers translate unique binary numbers into letters, numbers, and characters.

Here’s how binary numbers work. First, each position in a string of ones and zeroes represents a power of 2. A zero means no value is counted. A one means the value of a power of 2 is added to your total number. The value of the power of 2 depends on the position of the one in the string. A binary number value is calculated by adding up the power of 2 values, working from right to left.

The two-digit binary number 1 1 has a value of 3. The left 1 is in the position with a power of 2 value of 2 while the right 1 is in the position with a value of 1.

1 1 Write a binary number 1 or 0 in each cell
2 1 Position Value (as a power of 2)
2 1 Write value of each 1 then write total here:

2 + 1 = 3

The three-digit binary number 1 1 0 equals 6 (4 + 2):

1 1 0 Write a binary number 1 or 0 in each cell
4 2 1 Position Value (as a power of 2)
4 2 Write value of each 1 then write total here:

4 + 2 = 6

You might ask, what’s a power of 2 number? It’s not a superhero super power. It’s creating a sequence of numbers by multiplying each number by 2 and starting with the number 1. So, 1×2 = 2, 2×2 = 4, 4×2 = 8, onwards. Power of 2 values, therefore, are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and really onwards until the end of time.

While Gottfried Leibniz in 1703 published a paper that describes binary numbers, the computer scientist Claude Shannon in 1937 was the first to suggest all electronic data can be reduced to one unit, either on or off. These units are called binary digits or bits. Shannon took Leibniz’s idea and an earlier idea developed by the French mathematician George Boole, about algebra and a theory using two values, and used these ideas to quantify and measure the data that flowed across the US AT&T telephone networks.

Learn More

Binary numbers

https://classic.csunplugged.org/binary-numbers/

Why binary numbers are used

https://www.binarytranslator.com/why-binary-numbers-are-used-by-computers

binary vs decimal system

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-computers-use-the-binary-system-instead-of-the-decimal-system

How Binary numbers work

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior:How_Things_Work/Binary_Numbers

write you name in binary code

https://www.sciencefriday.com/educational-resources/write-your-name-in-binary-code/

Also In The February 2020 Issue

Please note: all issues back to February 2017 are available to subscribers only.
The December 2016 and earlier issues are open and free to access.

Can you figure out how to divide up coconuts between a group of sailors and a monkey? This puzzle mixes math and coding. Plus you can go online to try the code yourself!

Recreate the classic game in this simple Python tutorial. What whimsical stories can you write?

If you like ships, then you’ll love this easy-to-use website that keeps track of seafaring vessels around the world. Bonus: it helps prevent maritime collisions!

Ready for some good old-fashioned winter fun? In this article, build a digital snowman with Sketchup.

A fun, silly way to share your coding trials and triumphs with friends — because everything is better with kittens!

Should you learn Python, Scratch, Java, Assembly? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many options, this article is here to help.

Illustrating computational concepts like decomposition and algorithms with simple, hands-on, and occasionally messy activities.

In the old days, before video game systems had cameras and sensors, programmers had to get creative.

Six women were hired to use their math skills to program the ENIAC computer. They called themselves The First Programmers Club.

Learn about the key software that keeps your computer safe from viruses.

Programs are constantly being patched and improved. How do we keep track of all this new code?

Dive into the nitty-gritty details of binary numbers: how they work, why they’re used, and where they come from.

An easy way to code your own 3D graphics online. Dive into the world of pixels, triangles, textures, and colours!

Learn about the smallest, simplest computers and where they’re still used today.

Interesting stories about science and technology for February 2020.

Links from the bottom of all the February 2020 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.