Quiz: The language of numbers
1. Unlike Greeks (and Indians) who thought of philosophy based on numbers, Romans used them for military purposes. They divided their army by numbers; for example, a section was a group of ten soldiers, a century comprised of ten sections. Discipline was very strong. If a section humiliated itself in battle, they were in for a terrible punishment. Each member of the section chose from lots. The one person on whom the lot fell was clubbed and stoned to death by the other 9 members of his section. What word in the English language comes from this cruel practice?
2. The Italians were famous for trading. Trading was done in public places and money was exchanged by the bankers on benches. Unfortunately, some of these bankers lost their liquidity and could not trade anymore. When this happened, they had to break the benches. What word in the English language comes from this practice?
3. Fibonacci encountered the Indian numerical system while he was a child in Algeria. He brought it back to Italy after he grew up. Quite obviously, he brought the mysterious zero with him. He referred to the number by its Arabic name. The Italians were (a) resistant to changing their numeral system (b) very confused about the usage of zero and were rather suspicious. Hence, a modification of the Arabic name for zero made it into the language of Catholic opponents as a synonym for "dark secret". This word has the same meaning in the English language today. What word?