Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Front Cover
Penguin, Sep 1, 2000 - Mathematics - 272 pages
303 Reviews
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.

 

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Amazing and in-depth research on such a special topic. - Goodreads
Hard to read at times - Goodreads
An amazing insight into nothing. - Goodreads
I appreciate his coverage of the historical figures. - Goodreads

Review: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

User Review  - Bob Byrne - Goodreads

An interesting history of mathematics. Zero is an important number. Seife uses it to introduce the reader to many other interesting numbers. I want to understand non-Euclidean geometry. I want to understand Riemann's geometry and abstract algebra. I guess I need to do more reading. Read full review

Review: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

User Review  - Stef Smulders - Goodreads

Interesting read. Most surprising the representation of complex numbers as points on a globe. The physics part at the end seemed a bit far fetched. Read full review

All 54 reviews »

Contents

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About the author (2000)

Charles Seife is the author of five previous books, including Proofiness and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction and was a New York Times notable book. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, Wired, New Scientist, Science, Scientific American, and The Economist. He is a professor of journalism at New York University and lives in New York City.

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