Just to expand on this theme a bit, you can get those empty fields returned if you really want them, by passing -1 as the third argument to split: split /./,'abcde',-1 will dutifully return six empty strings. (Cases with values other than -1 are left as an exercise to the extremely bored.) Of course, there are probably faster ways to count the characters in your string, but that's a side issue. :-)
If God had meant us to fly, he would *never* have given us the railroads.