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Zero The Biography of a Dangerous Idea Summary The Book I read was Charles Seifes Zero The Biography of a Dangerous Idea which is centered around the number zero but ends up explaining the history and evolution of mathematics as we know it today the book starts explaining the dawn of mathematics when it was nothing more than a simple counting method man used to count their possessions such as sheep From the counting evolved number systems which the book went into a good amount of detail to describe Man was believed to be counting as long as 30000 years ago when cavemen put notches into wolf bones to no doubt count their possessions such as animals or stones or whatever The author states that since mathematics was used for little more than counting things there was no need for zero and therefore there was no zero A quote from the book best describes this The point about zero is that we do not need to use it in the operations of daily life No one goes out to buy zero fish It is in a way the most civilized of all the cardinals its use is only forced on us by the needs of cultivated modes of thought -Alfred North Whitehead The book then explains how zero crept itself into most methods of mathematics and the problems it caused while throughout stopping to explain how mathematics itself took the shape we all know today It describes how the need for zero arose mainly in the Babylonians sexagemisal system The way this number system was set up one symbol could mean many things One wedge could mean 1 60 3600 or and infinite amount of other things This arose the need for zero but only as a placeholder not as a number with its own value This satisfied people for a bit The book then takes time to describe how dangerous zero
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