Does ${\mathbb R}$ have proper, countable index subrings? By countable I mean finite or countably infinite. By subring I mean any additive subgroup which is closed under multiplication (I don't care if it contains $1$.) By index, I mean index as an additive subgroup.
Given some real number $x$, when is it possible to find a countable index subring of ${\mathbb R}$ which does not contain $x$?



Perhaps surprisingly, it turns out that such subrings do exist. This was proved in Section 2 of my paper: Simon Thomas, Infinite products of finite simple groups II, J. Group Theory 2 (1999), 401434. The basic idea of the proof is quite simple. Clearly the ring of $p$adic integers has countable index in the field of $p$adic numbers. Now the $p$adic integers are the valuation ring of the obvious valuation on the field of $p$adic numbers ... and it turns out to be enough to show that $\mathbb{C}$ has an analogous valuation. This is true because $\mathbb{C}$ is isomorphic to the field of Puiseux series over the algebraic closure of $\mathbb{Q}$, which has an appropriate valuation. 


Simon Thomas's approach answers Question 2 too. The answer is that for any nonzero real number $x$ there exists such a subring (possibly without 1) not containing $x$. Proof: Let $K$ be the Puiseux series field $\overline{\mathbf{Q}}((t^{\mathbf{Q}}))$, let $A$ be its valuation ring, and let $\mathfrak{m}$ be its maximal ideal. If $x \in \mathbf{R}$ is not algebraic over $\mathbf{Q}$, then choose an identification $\mathbf{C} \simeq K$ sending $x$ to the transcendental element $1/t$, and use the subring $\mathbf{R} \cap A$. If $x \in \mathbf{R}^\times$ is algebraic over $\mathbf{Q}$, then choose an identification $\mathbf{C} \simeq K$ again, and use $\mathbf{R} \cap \mathfrak{m}$ (a subring of $\mathbf{R}$ without $1$). $\square$ Remark: If one insists on using subrings with $1$, then the answer is that such a subring not containing $x$ exists if and only if $x \notin \mathbf{Z}$. Proof: Repeat the argument above, but in the case where $x$ is algebraic (and outside $\mathbf{Z}$), use $\mathbf{R} \cap (\mathbf{Z} + \mathfrak{m})$. 


Let $R$ be any field and let $S$ be an additive subgroup of $R$ which is closed under multiplication. If $S$ has index less than $S$ as an additive subgroup of $R$, then every element of $R$ is of the form $a/b$ for $a, b \in S$. To see this, pick $r \in R$ and consider the multiples $ur$ for $u \in S$. Since $S$ has index less than $S$, there must be $u \neq v$ such that $a = ur  vr \in S$ then $r = a/b$ where $b = u  v$. 

