The word ‘Seattle’ represented in ASCII binary code
Binary code was first introduced by the German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz during the 17th century. For many years he tried to find a system that converts logical verbal statements into purely mathematical ones. He came across a classical Chinese text called the ‘I Ching’ or ‘book of changes’ which used what we now know as the type of binary code. This book was initially written as a system of divination by the legendary Emperor and sage Fu Xi.
The Chinese BaGua and the Fu Xi array of hexagrams is the very arrangement which led Leibnitz, to discover the binary system, the foundation of all digital language. Father Joachim Bouvet, a Jesuit priest in China, introduced this sequence to Leibnitz, who was astonished to find that when taking 0 for each solid line and 1 for each broken line and reading upwards on each of the hexagrams gave the sequences 000000, 000001, 000010, 000011 and so on. This is the binary notation for the numbers 0 to 63!
The BaGua is the tool used in Feng Shui practice. It is split into eight sections: ‘Ba’ meaning 8 and ‘Gua’ meaning trigram. Each section or Ba consists of two yao symbols which are either yin or yang. When put into a sequence it represents the fundamental principles of reality. This type of binary code was used in ancient China and has sixy four possible pairs of trigrams called hexagrams. Confucius spent much of his life studying the I Ching and created a resurgence in interest across China.
As I find myself in the home of Microsoft I wonder if Bill Gates has also read the ‘book of magic’. The concept behind the ancient text is very simple: that the circumstances which occur in our lives – indeed the whole universe- are the result of two interacting forces called yin and yang. It is this synthesis of all universal interactions which Liebniz was fasciated by and led towards a digital evolution 6000 years old.