the nothing that is a natural history of zero

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The Nothing That Is

Author : Robert Kaplan
ISBN : 9780195128420
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 78. 58 MB
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The value of nothing is explored in rich detail as the author reaches back as far as the ancient Sumerians to find evidence that humans have long struggled with the concept of zero, from the Greeks who may or may not have known of it, to the East where it was first used, to the modern-day desktop PC, which uses it as an essential letter in its computational alphabet.

The Nothing That Is

Author : Robert Kaplan
ISBN : 0198029454
Genre : Science
File Size : 38. 2 MB
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A symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number it's added to, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox. As we enter the year 2000, 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 Kaplan's The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, and then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan shows us just how handicapped our ancestors were in trying to figure large sums without the aid of the zero. (Try multiplying CLXIV by XXIV). Remarkably, even the Greeks, mathematically brilliant as they were, didn't have a zero--or did they? We follow the trail to the East where, a millennium or two ago, Indian mathematicians took another crucial step. By treating zero for the first time like any other number, instead of a unique symbol, they allowed huge new leaps forward in computation, and also in our understanding of how mathematics itself works. In the Middle Ages, this mathematical knowledge swept across western Europe via Arab traders. At first it was called "dangerous Saracen magic" and considered the Devil's work, but it wasn't long before merchants and bankers saw how handy this magic was, and used it to develop tools like double-entry bookkeeping. Zero quickly became an essential part of increasingly sophisticated equations, and with the invention of calculus, one could say it was a linchpin of the scientific revolution. And now even deeper layers of this thing that is nothing are coming to light: our computers speak only in zeros and ones, and modern mathematics shows that zero alone can be made to generate everything. Robert 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. 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 Kaplan's pages, as he ranges from Archimedes to Einstein, making fascinating connections between mathematical insights from every age and culture. A tour de force of science history, The Nothing That Is takes us through the hollow circle that leads to infinity.

The Nothing That Is

Author : Robert Kaplan
ISBN : 9780199880898
Genre : Science
File Size : 74. 32 MB
Format : PDF, Kindle
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A symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number it's added to, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox. As we enter the year 2000, 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 Kaplan's The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, and then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan shows us just how handicapped our ancestors were in trying to figure large sums without the aid of the zero. (Try multiplying CLXIV by XXIV). Remarkably, even the Greeks, mathematically brilliant as they were, didn't have a zero--or did they? We follow the trail to the East where, a millennium or two ago, Indian mathematicians took another crucial step. By treating zero for the first time like any other number, instead of a unique symbol, they allowed huge new leaps forward in computation, and also in our understanding of how mathematics itself works. In the Middle Ages, this mathematical knowledge swept across western Europe via Arab traders. At first it was called "dangerous Saracen magic" and considered the Devil's work, but it wasn't long before merchants and bankers saw how handy this magic was, and used it to develop tools like double-entry bookkeeping. Zero quickly became an essential part of increasingly sophisticated equations, and with the invention of calculus, one could say it was a linchpin of the scientific revolution. And now even deeper layers of this thing that is nothing are coming to light: our computers speak only in zeros and ones, and modern mathematics shows that zero alone can be made to generate everything. Robert 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. 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 Kaplan's pages, as he ranges from Archimedes to Einstein, making fascinating connections between mathematical insights from every age and culture. A tour de force of science history, The Nothing That Is takes us through the hollow circle that leads to infinity.

The Art Of The Infinite

Author : Robert Kaplan
ISBN : 9781608198887
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 41. 2 MB
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A classic now available in a new, expanded edition-a witty, literate, and accessible tour of the world of mathematics. The Art of the Infinite takes infinity, in its countless guises, as a touchstone for understanding mathematical thinking. Robert and Ellen Kaplan guide us through the "Republic of Numbers,†? where we meet both its upstanding citizens and its more shadowy dwellers; and transport us across the plane of geometry into the unlikely realm where parallel lines meet. The journey is enriched by deft character studies of great mathematicians (and equally colorful lesser ones). And as we go deeper into infinity, we explore the most profound mystery of mathematics: Are its principles eternal truths that we discover? Or ones that we invent?

Zero

Author : Charles Seife
ISBN : 0140296476
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 26. 75 MB
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The history of a controversial but important number begins with its inventors, the Babylonians, and follows its tumultuous and fascinating story to the present era of supercomputers and quantum physics. Reprint.

Finding Zero

Author : Amir D. Aczel
ISBN : 9781466879102
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 57. 62 MB
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The invention of numerals is perhaps the greatest abstraction the human mind has ever created. Virtually everything in our lives is digital, numerical, or quantified. The story of how and where we got these numerals, which we so depend on, has for thousands of years been shrouded in mystery. Finding Zero is an adventure filled saga of Amir Aczel's lifelong obsession: to find the original sources of our numerals. Aczel has doggedly crisscrossed the ancient world, scouring dusty, moldy texts, cross examining so-called scholars who offered wildly differing sets of facts, and ultimately penetrating deep into a Cambodian jungle to find a definitive proof. Here, he takes the reader along for the ride. The history begins with the early Babylonian cuneiform numbers, followed by the later Greek and Roman letter numerals. Then Aczel asks the key question: where do the numbers we use today, the so-called Hindu-Arabic numerals, come from? It is this search that leads him to explore uncharted territory, to go on a grand quest into India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and ultimately into the wilds of Cambodia. There he is blown away to find the earliest zero—the keystone of our entire system of numbers—on a crumbling, vine-covered wall of a seventh-century temple adorned with eaten-away erotic sculptures. While on this odyssey, Aczel meets a host of fascinating characters: academics in search of truth, jungle trekkers looking for adventure, surprisingly honest politicians, shameless smugglers, and treacherous archaeological thieves—who finally reveal where our numbers come from.

Hidden Harmonies

Author : Ellen Kaplan
ISBN : 9781608192915
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 46. 41 MB
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A squared plus b squared equals c squared. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet this familiar expression is a gateway into the riotous garden of mathematics, and sends us on a journey of exploration in the company of two inspired guides, acclaimed authors Robert and Ellen Kaplan. With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present, visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President James Garfield, and the Freemasons-not to mention the elusive Pythagoras himself, who almost certainly did not make the statement that bears his name. How can a theorem have more than one proof? Why does this one have more than two hundred-or is it four thousand? The Pythagorean theorem has even more applications than proofs: Ancient Egyptians used it for surveying property lines, and today astronomers call on it to measure the distance between stars. Its generalizations are stunning-the theorem works even with shapes on the sides that aren't squares, and not just in two dimensions, but any number you like, up to infinity. And perhaps its most intriguing feature of all, this tidy expression opened the door to the world of irrational numbers, an untidy discovery that deeply troubled Pythagoras's disciples. Like the authors' bestselling The Nothing That Is and Chances Are . . .-hailed as "erudite and witty," "magnificent," and "exhilarating"-Hidden Harmonies makes the excitement of mathematics palpable.

Mountains Of The Heart

Author : Scott Weidensaul
ISBN : 9781938486890
Genre : Nature
File Size : 71. 25 MB
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Part natural history, part poetry, Mountains of the Heart is full of hidden gems and less traveled parts of the Appalachian Mountains Stretching almost unbroken from Alabama to Belle Isle, Newfoundland, the Appalachians are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. In Mountains of the Heart, renowned author and avid naturalist Scott Weidensaul shows how geology, ecology, climate, evolution, and 500 million years of history have shaped one of the continent's greatest landscapes into an ecosystem of unmatched beauty. This edition celebrates the book's 20th anniversary of publication and includes a new foreword from the author.

The Book Of Nothing

Author : John D. Barrow
ISBN : 9780307554819
Genre : Science
File Size : 83. 49 MB
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What conceptual blind spot kept the ancient Greeks (unlike the Indians and Maya) from developing a concept of zero? Why did St. Augustine equate nothingness with the Devil? What tortuous means did 17th-century scientists employ in their attempts to create a vacuum? And why do contemporary quantum physicists believe that the void is actually seething with subatomic activity? You’ll find the answers in this dizzyingly erudite and elegantly explained book by the English cosmologist John D. Barrow. Ranging through mathematics, theology, philosophy, literature, particle physics, and cosmology, The Book of Nothing explores the enduring hold that vacuity has exercised on the human imagination. Combining high-wire speculation with a wealth of reference that takes in Freddy Mercury and Shakespeare alongside Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking, the result is a fascinating excursion to the vanishing point of our knowledge. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Out Of The Labyrinth

Author : Robert Kaplan
ISBN : 9781608198894
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 55. 66 MB
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"In this sparkling narrative, mathematics is indeed set free.†? -Michael Shermer Who hasn't feared the math Minotaur in its labyrinth of abstractions? The subject can seem convoluted and forbidding. Yet to do mathematics is to wrestle with "accessible mysteries†?-and Out of the Labyrinth shows how exhilarating the challenge can be. Robert and Ellen Kaplan are founders of the Math Circle, a pioneering learning program begun at Harvard in 1994 and now spreading around the world. In their classrooms students ages six to sixty have discovered mathematics as the highest form of intellectual play, while exploring topics that range from Roman numerals to quantum mechanics. The Kaplans reveal the secrets of their highly successful approach, leading readers out of the labyrinth and into the joyous embrace of mathematics. Stocked with puzzles, colorful anecdotes, and insights from the authors' own teaching experience, Out of the Labyrinth is both an engaging and practical guide for parents and educators, and a treasure chest of mathematical discoveries. For any reader who has felt the excitement of mathematical discovery-or tried to convey it to someone else-this volume will be a delightful and valued companion.

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