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One is a number, a numeral, and the name of the glyph representing that number. It represents a single entity, the unit of counting or measurement. For example, a line segment of "unit length" is a line segment of length 1.


Any number multiplied by one is the number, as one is the identity for multiplication. As a result, one is its own factorial, its own square, its own cube, and so on. One is also the empty product, as any number multiplied by one is itself, which produces the same result as multiplying by no numbers at all. So pretty unique.


The glyph used today in the Western world to represent the number 1, a vertical line, often with a serif at the top and sometimes a short horizontal line at the bottom, traces its roots back to the Indians, who wrote 1 as a horizontal line, much like the Chinese character. The Gupta wrote it as a curved line, and the Nagari sometimes added a small circle on the left (rotated a quarter turn to the right, this 9-look-alike became the present day numeral 1 in the Gujarati and Punjabi scripts).


The Nepali also rotated it to the right but kept the circle small. This eventually became the top serif in the modern numeral, but the occasional short horizontal line at the bottom probably originates from similarity with the Roman numeral \mathrm{I}.


In some European countries (e.g., Germany), the little serif at the top is sometimes extended into a long upstroke, sometimes as long as the vertical line, which can lead to confusion with the glyph for seven in other countries. Where the 1 is written with a long upstroke, the number 7 has a horizontal stroke through the vertical line.


One is the atomic number of the element hydrogen, the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard is numbered 01 and a one can be found on every traditional British red telephone box. Where I found this shot with my iphone Hipstamatic app.


One is used in binary code along with 0. As they say there are only 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary and those who do not.


Drift away with Lene Lovich, one of the Stiff Allstars -


(c) Hotpix / HotpixUK Tony Smith - WDCC


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Taken on April 7, 2012