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Sidebar: The Nines Tables

Written by Mike Spock

Some Sundays I would go with my father on house calls. Waiting in the car while he attended to a patient, I remember discovering the thrilling regularity of the 9s tables.

09

18
27
36
45
54
63
72
81
90

Zero to nine ascending, one at a time, in the left column. Nine to zero descending in order in the right column. Every pair of digits adding up to nine. Complementary numbers, working out from the center in both directions, invariably being the reciprocals of each other. Magic! I couldn't wait to show off my discovery when Ben returned to the car. I realized I didn't even have to commit the tricky 9s to memory, I could reconstruct them from scratch any time I needed to.

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