Zero by Charles Seife
The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

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Synopsis

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. 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 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.


 

About Charles Seife

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CHARLES SEIFE is the author of Sun in a Bottle and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction book, and was named a New York Times Notable Book. He has written for Science Magazine, New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, and Wired. He is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and lives in New York City.
 
Published September 1, 2000 by Penguin Books. 248 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, History, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife Souvenir Press, £9.99 It is said that Stephen Hawking, while writing A Brief History of Time , was persuaded by his publisher that every equation he included, apart from that famous one, would reduce his sales by half.

Mar 22 2003 | Read Full Review of Zero: The Biography of a Dang...

Publishers Weekly

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In a lively and literate first book, science journalist Seife takes readers on a historical, mathematical and scientific journey from the infinitesimal to the infinite.

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Scholars And Rogues

“The clashes over zero were the battles that shook the foundations of philosophy, of science, of mathematics, and of religion,” says Seife, who then goes on to explore those conflicts.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Zero: The Biography of a Dang...

http://www.citypaper.com

Robert Kaplan's The Nothing That Is and Charles Seife's Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea examine the history of the number as they try to make zero more of a hero.

Mar 01 2000 | Read Full Review of Zero: The Biography of a Dang...

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