It’s a cold day in Antarctica. In fact, it’s always a cold day in Antarctica. Earth’s southernmost continent, Antarctica experiences the coldest, driest, and windiest conditions known. The coldest temperature ever recorded, over one hundred degrees below zero on the Celsius scale, was recorded by remote satellite. It is no surprise then, that no native human population can survive the harsh conditions. Only explorers and scientists brave the environment for any length of time.
Measuring and recording the characteristics of weather conditions in Antarctica requires a use of different kinds of numbers. For tens of thousands of years, humans have undertaken methods to tally, track, and record numerical information. While we don't know much about their usage, the Lebombo Bone (dated to about 35,000 BCE) and the Ishango Bone (dated to about 20,000 BCE) are among the earliest mathematical artifacts. Found in Africa, their clearly deliberate groupings of notches may have been used to track time, moon cycles, or other information. Performing calculations with them and using the results to make predictions requires an understanding of relationships among numbers. In this chapter, we will review sets of numbers and properties of operations used to manipulate numbers. This understanding will serve as prerequisite knowledge throughout our study of algebra and trigonometry.