Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshiped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics. Now it threatens the foundations of modern physics. For centuries the power of zero savored of the demonic; once harnessed, it became the most important tool in mathematics.... show more
The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshiped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics. Now it threatens the foundations of modern physics. For centuries the power of zero savored of the demonic; once harnessed, it became the most important tool in mathematics. For zero, infinity's twin, is not like other numbers. It is both nothing and everything. In Zero, Science Journalist Charles Seife follows this innocent-looking number from its birth as an Eastern philosophical concept to its struggle for acceptance in Europe, its rise and transcendence in the West, and its ever-present threat to modern physics. Here are the legendary thinkers—from Pythagoras to Newton to Heisenberg, from the Kabalists to today's astrophysicists—who have tried to understand it and whose clashes shook the foundations of philosophy, science, mathematics, and religion. Zero has pitted East against West and faith against reason, and its intransigence persists in the dark core of a black hole and the brilliant flash of the Big Bang. Today, zero lies at the heart of one of the biggest scientific controversies of all time: the quest for a theory of everything.
Publish date: September 1st 2000
Pages no: 248
Edition language: English
First, I want to say that I loved this book. It examines the historical introduction zero into our number system (as we found we wanted to do things other than just count), and then it examines the role that zero and its un-identical twin infinity play in several areas of modern, applied math. The...
Two stars represents on Goodreads "it was okay" and I think that's about right. Yet that feels too low, because I did get through this book, and that usually represents at least a three to me--that I liked it--unless I find an ultimate WTF moment. If I was tempted to mark it lower, I think it's that...