Front cover image for The nothing that is : a natural history of zero

The nothing that is : a natural history of zero

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
Print Book, English, 2000
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000
xii, 225 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
9780195128420, 9780195142372, 9781429404747, 0195128427, 0195142373, 1429404744
The lens
Mind puts its stamp on matter
The Greeks had no word for it
Travelers' tales
Into the unknown
A paradigm shifts
A Mayan interlude: the dark side of counting
Much ado : Envoys of emptiness ; A sypher in Augrim ; This year, next year, sometime, never ; Still it moves
Entertaining angels : The power of nothing ; Knowing squat ; The fabric of this vision ; Leaving not wrack behind
Almost nothing : Slouching toward Bethlehem ; Two victories, a defeat and distant thunder
Is it out there?
Bath-house with spiders
A land where it was always afternoon
Was Lear right?
The unthinkable
Includes index