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The Greeks and Romans really hated it and the Catholics feared it, but the Muslims revered it! Seife traces the development of zero from Babylonians' accidental invention of it as a place-holder in counting, and from there to ancient India and Arabia to its acceptanc e in the Western world. Zero's importance in Renaissance art and Reformation politics to the Big Bang theory has continued to alter our views of the universe, God and religion. Seife describes, with humor, how this one single digit has bedeviled and fascinated thinkers from ancient Athens to Los Alamos.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea Summary & Study Guide Description

I think you'll get a good grasp on the most misunderstood number in this witty book. Read full review. Skip to main content. About this product. Make an offer:. Stock photo.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)

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About this product Product Information Popular math at its most entertaining and enlightening. 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.


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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: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea: Charles Seife

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.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. He writes with an understated charm that takes account of human fear, the mistakes of geniuses and the mind's grandest ambitions. 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.


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Today, zero lies at the heart of one of the biggest scientific controversies of all time: the quest for a theory of everything. With remarkable economy, Seife urges his readers to peer through the zero down into the abyss of absolute emptiness and out into the infinite expanse of space. Deftly and surely, Seife recounts the historical debates, then swiftly rolls the zero right up to the present day, where he plunges through its perilous opening down into the voracious maw of a black hole, and then out into the deep freeze of an ever cooling cosmos.

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A must read for every armchair physicist. In doing so.