While admittedly the binary
system gives you 1024 (ahem, mblase) numbers, and one hand gives you 32 (Ahem, indeed), one can magnify the number grossly by making the base 3 -- trinary
. By having the finger
position be in the set of Down
, and Up
(rather than just Down and Up) you essentially increase your maximum to 59049 (and 243 on one hand). Taking this concept to a fuller potential
, we decide that a person is able to identify 7 degrees of erection for their fingers (thereby creating a septenary
system for counting. This would then allow for more than 282 million numbers (16807 one hand). Machine
aided, oboy, look out.
Of course, one could use a machine much more effectively by mapping out a high resolution image map of the hand, and store each pixel as an integer, accessing these when a given place on the hand is indicated (hopefully by a very fine tool).
And to answer the question, I can count as high as ten, or even as high as two.
If I was asked to climb a short wall, I could count on my fingers to hold me, but if asked to scale more than 12 feet, with slippery footing, I would prefer to count on a rope held by a trained belayer.