27 February, 2021

Riding The Mind On Mode Zero

It is the search for the origin of zero, without which it is impossible to imagine the modern day world

Riding The Mind On Mode Zero
outlookindia.com
2016-11-04T17:41:57+05:30

The question is, is this book about numbers or is this a travel book? Many would mistake the late Amir Aczel’s Finding Zero for a travel book, because it is a fascinating story of a personal quest that starts with shipboard casinos, a guide called Laci who turns out to be a smuggler while being a maths wiz too and life on board an Israeli cruiser sailing down the Mediterranean. Of course, at its heart, it is the search for the origin of zero, the figure which dictates place values in today’s numbers game. Whether it is the decimal system or the bin­ary code, it is impossible to imagine the modern day world without it.

Learning Greek and Roman numbers as a child, Aczel moves on to locate the zero, which did not exist in the European mathematical world. According to historians, zero originated in Arabia—this was later modified to spread further East to India, a tenet firmly resisted by colonial mathematicians, who insisted that Oriental mathematics was far inferior. Zero did not exist in the European number system till the 13th century. Aczel,...

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