As programmers, we are used to the concept that non-zero numbers are true, and the number zero (that celebrated, deplored, curiosity-inspiring singularity squatting in the centre of an uncountably infinite line of numbers stretching forever in both directions, and then some) is false. Indeed, in C programming, 1 is so often synonymous with truth and 0 with falsehood that truth and falsehood are often literally defined as being equal to those numbers:

#define TRUE 1 #define FALSE 0This has a few odd mathematical consequences, such as the number 2 being doubly true (TRUE+TRUE). More interestingly, if you try to divide TRUE into equal parts, the result will be rounded down to FALSE. I think there's something in that for all of us.

But let us diverge from the topic of C programming, and once again speak more generally of the convention that all non-zero numbers are equally true.

However! This universally-accepted convention is not, in fact, as universally-accepted as all that. In fact, in

*bash*scripting, the world of truth and falsehood is

*turned on its head*, zero becoming true and non-zero becoming false! You may gasp in shock and horror, but I assure you that this is indeed TRUE, no matter which value you assign to TRUE!

*What is this foul fiction?*you cry! Alas, alack, have the Biblical revisionists finally taken over? Quick, somebody check if pi is equal to three!

Don't panic; your transcendental numbers are safe.

*Except from the terrorists.*(This interjection is brought to you by the US government.) Indeed, on reflection I must admit there is some strange, strange elegance in this strange, strange concept.

For example, division by false is now routine. And is it not so that falsehoods cannot help but repeatedly divide us?

Furthermore, falsehoods are dirty, common things; no more remarkable in our lives than the mathematical properties of the number 14. But the number 0; aah, now there is a strange and wondrous thing, as truth is a strange and wondrous thing!

If my ramblings have not yet convinced you, consider this closing thought. If all non-zero numbers are true, then there are infinitely many truths and only one falsehood. However, as any man or woman may see, there exists more than one falsehood in the world. This leads one to suggest that the opposing scheme, containing but one truth and infinitely many falsehoods, is closer to reality.