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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review for Zero:the Biography of a Dangerous Idea
This book was absolutely wonderful, it delves into the history of mathematics, as far back as the creation of numbers themselves. It looks at the contribution that the Greeks, Babylonians and Hindus made to mathematics, and how religion had restricted the development of mathematics. The book was written very well, it felt like a story book, rather than a factual book. I...
Published on 30 July 2002

versus
9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Journalism is not History of Ideas
This book is like a news paper report; whenever it deals with something with which I am familiar it is wrong or grossly misleading. So I assume the same when it deals with what I know not. Hence I find this book a completely useless piece of trash.

Obviously the idea of sexing up dossiers has its own history
Published on 23 May 2010 by R. Larham


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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review for Zero:the Biography of a Dangerous Idea, 30 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
This book was absolutely wonderful, it delves into the history of mathematics, as far back as the creation of numbers themselves. It looks at the contribution that the Greeks, Babylonians and Hindus made to mathematics, and how religion had restricted the development of mathematics. The book was written very well, it felt like a story book, rather than a factual book. I recommend this book for everyone with an interest in Maths, you do not need to be a mathematician to enjoy this book.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best maths books around, 8 Dec. 2006
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This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
Being an undergraduate philosopher I've had to read a lot of maths books, and this is by far the best. It's true that you don't need much maths background to understand it, but it's also highly enjoyable for those with a lot of maths or physics knowledge - it links up and explains general assumptions in a way which seems never to occur to most teachers of sciences courses. The proof of 0=1 (and, extrapolating, that winston churchill = a carrot) is excellent and well worth committing to memory just to freak out any maths nerds one knows. Also worth a go is the step-by-step guide to making your own wormhole time machine (Step 1: Make a small wormhole, and attach one end to something really heavy). Really excellent, buy everyone you know a copy for christmas.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zero and infinity, 7 Aug. 2007
By 
Mikko Saari (Tampere, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
Babylonians invented it, Indians worshipped it, Greeks abhorred it. Zero has been a problematic number for a long time. European mathematicians followed Greek footsteps, until they finally realized how important thing zero was for advanced mathematics.

Seife presents us the history of zero and its sister concept infinity, not only in mathematics, but also in physics and quantum mechanics. Zero is an entertaining book, if a bit light. For quick popular science entertainment purposes it's a good choice. (Review based on the Finnish translation.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book about the many interdisciplinary implications of the most misunderstood number. Fun and informative!, 6 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
A fascinating book for the non-mathematical minds like mine. I was mostly struck by the philosophical implications of the concept of zero. I would never have thought that a number could have had such impact on religion, politics and indeed our way of life. The main concept I came away with is that zero, the twin brother of infinity, was not recognized as suchin antiquity. In fact it was expressely rejected by most ancient civilizations, and remarkably so by Aristotle: his theory of a "prime mover" of a finite universe (God) was taken up for two millennia by priests of various religions and catholic popes. To reject Aristotle and accept Giordano Bruno (there may be, indeed, there probably are other worlds and the universe is not finite) was heretical: there was no need for a prime mover any more and, ...might there be other popes besides the one on earth? Giordano Bruno paid with his life for defending infinity and, therefore, zero.

We have obviously and luckily moved beyond that by now, but zero has not yet become a familiar concept for most of us. Most people, if asked, will start counting from 1, though 0 is the first number. Most celebrated the new millennium one year early, on 31 December 1999, because they were unaware that there was no year 0, but the 3rd millennium began on 1 january 2001. And 0 is placed after 9 in the keyboard of my computer, and not before 1, where it should be.

This is not a heavy math book, but a pleasure to read for the scientifically minded, especially if you have a propensity to look for the root causes of philosophy and politics.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will fascinate, surprise and confuse in equal measures, 18 Feb. 2009
By 
J. Duducu (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
It has been awhile since anyone has reviewed this book so I thought I should show that even though it was published a few years ago it is still a very well written and breathless study of a number.

One of the many things you take from this book is 0, although a real number, is still treated as "other" or different. Just look at the numbers on your key pad...go on. The numbers go from 1 to 0, 0 does not come after 9, 10 does so the marginalisation of 0 is still there (the same goes for a phone key pad and the buttons on a calculator).

The book is similar to Fermat's last theorem in that it takes a mathematical idea and uses it to guide the layman through the history of mathematics which means it also talks through bits of philosophy and physics too. It is full of dazzling stories and much of the mathematics is accessible to all (although Riemann and his transparent ball of numbers on a complex plane lost me).

The best thing I can say about the book is every time I now see the digit 0 it puts a little smile on my face as I know about all the trouble that little oval has caused.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 23 Sept. 2001
By A Customer
This is an excellent history of number Zero. Charles Seife takes you from the start, tracing the ideas of zero and inifity through time and how their concepts have been feared and embraced, how they've affected and forced evolution upon religious, philosophical, societal, and scientific ideas. I think this book should be part of any mathematics course. Highly recommend this book!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history of the concept of zero, 25 July 2010
By 
M. F. Cayley (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
A fascinating account of the evolution of the understanding of zero - and, in recent centuries, its relationship to infinity. The book explains some deep ideas of maths and physics in a way comprehensible to someone with only very elementary knowledge of maths. A rewarding read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really fabulous read, 30 Mar. 2010
By 
P. Fogarty "Dr Fog" (Romania) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
I was given this as a gift and showed it to my Romanian father in law - who pulled out of his brief case the exact same book in Romanian. If he has anything in his brief case, it is always a great recommendation.

He was so enthusiastic about this book. I started to read it and was completely blown away by it all as it is full of facts, which are written in a really exciting way. It certainly made my 1 hour long underground tube rides fly by! I also liked it as I am a primary school teacher, and so my class was fascinated to learn the Romans and the Egyptians had no zero.

Some of if was a little above the head of a primary school teacher, it was one of those things were you read it, and understood it immediately (a sign of a great science writer) - then I forgot it equally fast (a primary teacher brain!) - but I would recommend anyone with the slightest interest in Maths to read this book.
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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics history, 11 April 2003
By 
Stevetrumpet (Beds UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
A very readable book. This book covers the life story of the number zero, and it is a facinating story which is being told.

You do not need to have a better than average understanding of maths to be able to appreciate this book.

A good read, highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Better than I expected It is easy enough ..., 11 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Paperback)
Excellent. Better than I expected

It is easy enough to read for the layman, yet manages to explain concepts very clearly.

Its full of historical references and it cleared some puzzles and illuminated areas of thought I did not even know were related to zero

Recommended to and suitable for practically everyone
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Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife (Paperback - 12 Oct. 2000)
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