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The nothing that is : a natural history of zero

Author: Robert Kaplan
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
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? And what, exactly, does it mean? 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  Read more...
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Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Robert Kaplan
ISBN: 0195128427 9780195128420 0195142373 9780195142372
OCLC Number: 41165440
Notes: Includes index.
Description: xii, 225 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: The lens --
Mind puts its stamp on matter --
The Greeks had no word for it --
Travelers' tales --
Eastward --
Dust --
Into the unknown --
A paradigm shifts --
A Mayan interlude : the dark side of counting --
Much ado --
Entertaining angels --
Almost nothing --
Is it out there? --
Bath-house with spiders --
A land where it was always afternoon --
Was Lear right? --
The unthinkable.
Responsibility: Robert Kaplan ; illustrations by Ellen Kaplan.
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Abstract:

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? And what, exactly, does it mean? 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.--From publisher description.

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