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The Nothing that Is: A Natural History of Zero

The Nothing that Is: A Natural History of Zero by Robert Kaplan 0195142373 9780195142372
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A symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number its added to, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox. As we welcome the new millennium, zero is once again making its presence felt. Nothing itself, it makes possible a myriad of calculations. 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 hollow circle, come from? Who created it? And what, exactly, does it mean? Robert Kaplans 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. 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. He points out how the history of mathematics is a process of recursive abstraction: how once a symbol is created to represent an idea, that symbol itself gives rise to new operations that in turn lead to new ideas. The beauty of mathematics is that even though we invent it, we seem to be discovering something that already exists. The joy of that discovery shines from Kaplans pages, as he ranges from Archimedes to Einstein, making fascinating connections between mathematical insights from every age and culture.

Author: Robert Kaplan

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 240

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 2000-12-07

Our Price: $4.09

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ISBN: 0195142373


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