8/10 A wonderful popular science book about a very simple idea: 0. Thoroughly enjoyable read for a total math geek that I am. I was just constantly getting excited and amazed at how zero revolutionized all areas of mathematics, philosophy, engineering, and physics. The book keeps looking at major events in the evolution of science purely from the perspective of zero and its role in changing our perspective on the world. It might be a little over-dramatized at times, but it really flows like an epic story of The Zero superhero. I got to re-read some of the ancient stories I’ve heard already, like Archimedes basically doing calculus way before Jesus or Newton were born, but from a new perspective, from the perspective of zero. Frankly, a wild concept to write a book like that, but since I constantly get hyped about the most “normal” science facts, I totally get the itch. The book is good, because you can feel that the author enjoyed writing it!
Not sure what would make me give it a 9 or a 10. I think at times it felt a little too repetitive and a little too elementary. But it’s a popular science book, it should be like that. I would write it like that as well. So 8 it is, 8 is good, 9 and 10 are reserved for those book that you just can’t let go - this one was good, but not that good.
A journey from Archimedes to the eventual heat death of the universe through the lense of 0. Basically an epic story of the development of science, written from a romanticized perspective of 0. You’ll get to read about how we thought of the concept of zero as a humanity, why it was a counter-intuitive idea, and how the church banned it from existence. The story then follows with the struggle of bringing zero to the mainstream and its eventual acceptance by mathematicians, philosophers, and physicist. The story concludes with the comforts and worries that zero brings to the science nowadays, including calculus, set theory, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory.
- the rational numbers take absolutely no space on the number line compared to the reals This is a pretty crazy result, as intuitively one would think the rationals take up ALL the space. Nice proof in the book (spoiler alert: includes 0, as a limit of coverings). Even simpler proof: rationals are points on the number line (points are 0 dimensional), while reals are tiny line segments (1 dimensional)
- reading about early scientists is absolutely inspiring. They are portrayed as these absolute gods of intellect that make you want to study, be introspective, and become an absolute work-horse of an intellectual as well.