I wish I knew…and this is a bigger question than you think you’re asking. When we count we go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and then we start over again, just changing the second number, 11, 12, 13…etc. This is called “base 10”. The base is the number that you have to hit before moving a decimal place over. We use base ten, presumably, 100% because we have ten fingers.
However, 12 is possibly a better choice. Ten is only divisible by 1, 2, 5, and 10 while 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. So for a lot of applications, base 12 is easier to use. And we do use base 12, just not very often or very precisely. Every time you say “two dozen” you’re using base 12. Or, in the case of your pack of tampons, eight dozen.
Why we use dozens isn’t exactly clear…it may be just because it’s mathematically convenient…or it may be good for marketing reasons (96 might sound more impressive than 100.) Or maybe it’s because there are roughly 12 lunar cycles per year (which is where we get the 12 months.)
We don’t really know…but beer, soda, eggs, and tampons…all come in dozens…for reasons that stretch back, possibly, to the very beginning of counting. Which is REALLY COOL.
You made this interesting and I’m honestly so impressed.
MORE FUN NUMBER INFO
Multiples of 12 are often largely composite or highly composite numbers (i.e., they’re either more divisible or as divisible as any smaller number), so they’re super easy to evenly divide compared to other numbers. Some sweetheart on wikipedia made this fun chart demonstrating this:
Since 96 is the largest number that is both:
- largely composite (divides by a bunch of numbers)
- close to 100,
it’s an optimal choice for selling in bulk
"Some sweetheart." This post definitely got better.
Haiku means nothing beyond what it is. A pond in summer, a leaf in the wind. It’s human consciousness located in nature. It’s the answer to everything in a set number of lines, a prescribed syllable count. “I wanted a haiku war,” he said. “I wanted a war in three lines. This was not a matter of force levels or logistics. What I wanted was a set of ideas linked to transient things. This is the soul of haiku. Bare everything to plain sight… See what’s there and then be prepared to watch it disappear.”Don DeLillo, Point Omega (via dannycollage)