KATHMANDU: Revellers all over the world start the countdown to a brand new year from 10; what’s interesting is that this year the countdown also ended at 10 as the year 2010 began at the stroke of the midnight.

A natural number, 10 is often regarded as the most perfect number since it contains the unit that did it all — one and the zero. In other words, the addition of zero symbolises the perfection of number one’s meaning. That very much explains the use of the term ‘a perfect 10’ for something/someone that achieves a perfect score. Even a person who is physically flawless and attractive is often referred to as ‘a 10’.

The influence of number 10 dates back to ancient times; the civilisation of Mayas regarded it as the representation of the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. For them, 10 was the number of life and death.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, the German theologian and astrologer called 10 “the number of all or universal, and the complete number signifying the full course of life”. According to him, this number which is a return to the unit after the development of the cycle of first nine numbers, either implies all the number within itself or explains them by itself.

“In Eastern astrology 10 has a special significance as astrologers have a very high regard for the 10 directions,” said former president of Asian Astrologer’s Congress, Khila Nath Bastakoty.

Here are other significance of number 10:


In calendar


• The number of days added to the calendar for countries to adopt to the Gregorian calendar (created by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to reform the old Julian calendar) after the year 1582 until the year 1700 (not a leap year), since the year 1600 was a leap year. Those countries are France, Portugal, Italy and Spain in 1582, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Catholic Germany countries, 1 or 2 years later and Hungary in 1587.

• The number of (Chinese) heavenly/celestial stems, originated from Yin/Yang (negative/positive) and five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) representing Chinese lunar years.

• In ancient Chinese and some other Asian countries, the night time is considered to be lasting for 10 hours, from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am.


Symbolism


• For Pythagoras, 10 was the symbol of the universe and it also expressed the whole of human knowledge.

• Sum of 5 + 5, the number 10 represents the two opposite current directions of the conscience — involution and evolution.

• Represents the first couple, the marriage: 1 = the man, 0 the egg fertilised by the 1. The 10 gives the indication of a spiritual regression since the marriage is a consequence of the fall of the man.


In numeral systems


• Ten is the base of the decimal numeral system, by far the most common system of denoting numbers in both spoken and written language. Ten is the first two-digit number in decimal and thus the lowest number where the position of a numeral affects its value.

• Metric measurements use units in multiples of 10. In this context deca- means 10 times and deci- means one-tenth.


In religion


• In Hinduism there are 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. A cornerstone of Hindu philosophy, avatar is an incarnation of God in which he descents upon the earth to maintain the balance between evil and good. It is believed that the nine avatars of Lord Vishnu have already descended upon the earth, while the tenth one is yet to appear. The 10 avatars are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Buddha and Kalki

• The Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:2-13 and Deuteronomy 5:6-17 are considered a cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity.

• In Deuteronomy 26:12, the Torah commands Jews to give one-tenth of their produce to the poor.

• Jews observe the annual Ten Days of Repentance beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur.

• There are said to be Ten Lost Tribes of Israel (those other than Judah and Benjamin).

• There are Ten Sephirot in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life

• The Bible records 10 generations between Adam and Noah, and 10 generations between Noah and Abraham.

• In Judaism, 10 adults are the required quorum for prayer services.


In music


• The interval of a major or minor tenth is an octave plus a major or minor third.

• Ten was the number of violin sonatas composed by Ludwig van Beethoven


In sports and games


• In American football the length (yards) of each end zones of the field is 10.

• In basketball the distance between the hardwood floor and the goal ring is 10.

• In blackjack, the Ten, Jack, Queen and King are all worth 10 points.

• In 10-pin bowling, 10 pins are arranged in a triangular pattern and there are 10 frames per game.

• It is the highest score possible in Olympics competitions.

• In cricket, 10 is the number of wickets required to be taken by the bowling side for the batting side to be bowled out.

• In baseball there are always at least 10 players on the field at a time (including the batter).

• Driving a racing car at ten-tenths is driving as fast as possible, on the limit.


In technology


• Ten-codes are commonly used on emergency service radio systems.

• In Mac OS X, the F10 function key tiles all the windows of the current application and greys the windows of other applications.

• The IP addresses in the range 10.0.0.0/8 (meaning the interval between 10.0.0.0 and 10.255.255.255) is reserved for use by Private networks by RFC 1918.


Miscellaneous


• Since it is the base of decimal system, a scale of 1 to 10 is often used to rank things.

• Counting from one to 10 before speaking is often done in order to cool one’s temper.

• There is a general tradition of bringing out ‘Top 10 list’.

• FBI’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list began in 1950.

• British Prime Minister’s official residence is called 10 Downing Street.