If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. The abacus, with its beads strung on parallel wires, led the Arabs to positional numeration and the concept of zero many centuries before the rest of the world; and it was a useful tool so useful that it still exists.
Iamblichus attributes to them [the people in the Tigro- Euphrates basin] also a knowledge of proportion, and even the invention of the so called musical proportion. Though we possess no conclusive proof, we have nevertheless reason to believe that in practical calculation they used the abacus . ...Now, Babylon was once a great commercial centre, the metropolis of many nations, and it is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that her merchants employed this most improved aid to calculation.
The force that makes the winter grow Its feathered hexagons of snow , and drives the bee to match at home Their calculated honeycomb, Is abacus and rose combined. An icy sweetness fills my mind , A sense that under thing and wing Lies, taut yet living , coiled, the spring .jacob bronowski