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Technology has come a long way in a relatively short time, as was recently demonstrated when someone tried to solve an impossible math equation on an old, mechanical calculator.

If you try to divide a number by zero on a modern, electronic calculator, you’ll simply get a message that says, “Error,” because it’s mathematically impossible. However, the results are a bit different when the calculation is punched into a Facit ESA-01 mechanical calculator from the 1950s.

Video footage from YouTube user MultiGlizda of those results gave interesting insight into how these old calculators work, while also revealing the fascinating nature of the number zero, according to IFL Science.

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Watch the epic video here:

The reason for the calculator’s meltdown, as explained by Popular Mechanics, is simple: the process of division on a mechanical calculator is basically just subtracting over and over again.

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For example, twenty divided by four, is just:

20 – 4 = 16

16 – 4 = 12

12 – 4 = 8

8 – 4 = 4

4- 4 = 0

Because it took five steps to get to zero, the answer is five.

However, trying to use the same process when dividing by zero results in the unending chaos we saw in the above video, because the sequence never ends.

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20 – 0 = 20

20 – 0 = 20

20 – 0 = 20

20 – 0 = 20

20 – 0 = 20

And on, and on, and on, and on, and on until … well, who knows how long one of these calculators could spin its wheels before exploding. For all we know, that Facit calculator may still be trying to figure it out today.

While the results don’t mean that zero equals infinity, the number of operations the calculator “believed” it needed to complete the division was, in fact, infinite.

Fortunately, we have neat little pocket-sized machines today that simply give you an “error” message when you try to divide by zero, saving us an infinite amount of time — literally.

Who else has a newfound gratitude for modern technology after seeing this?

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