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The Nothing That Is a Natural History of Zero

by Robert Kaplan

  • ISBN: 9780195142372
  • ISBN10: 0195142373

The Nothing That Is a Natural History of Zero

by Robert Kaplan

  • List Price: $14.99
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780195142372
  • ISBN10: 0195142373
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Description: Zero: a symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number when added to it, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox. Indeed, without zero mathematics as we know it would not exist. And without mathematics our understanding of the universe would be vastly impoverished. But where did this nothing, this vacant numeral originate? Who created it? And what exactly, does it mean?

Robert Kaplan's The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan serves up all this history with immense zest and humor; his writing is full of anecdotes and asides, and quotations from Shakespeare to Wallace Stevens extend the book's context far beyond the scope of scientific specialists. For Kaplan, the history of zero is a lens for looking not only into the evolution of mathematics but into very nature of human thought.

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