More than you ever wanted to know about nothing at all
August 3, 2006 6:39 AM   Subscribe

The Zero Saga contains a great deal of information about the concept of zero, and its relation to other numbers and concepts in mathematics. It was linked in Good Math, Bad Math; which contains a variety of other informative articles on the numbers that capture our imaginations. (Note: You may want to skip past part 4 of the Zero Saga, as it contains replies to the site, and as such should probably be at the bottom of the page. But, to compensate, the comments on Good Math are better than most blogs I've read.)
posted by Eideteker (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Several readers of GMBM have asked for a run down on Surreal Numbers next, so you may want to "watch this space," as it were. I often confuse them with Transfinite numbers, myself. And hey, that article links to this one, which links to Gödel's ontological proof. Maybe Hofstadter is having an effect on my brain; I'm seeing threads of his damned braid everywhere.
posted by Eideteker at 6:44 AM on August 3, 2006

I salute this kind of posting and proceed to read it
posted by elpapacito at 6:45 AM on August 3, 2006

I don't hold with 0.

I like Null though.
posted by ewkpates at 6:55 AM on August 3, 2006

There was a cool PBS special about zero a few months back with that Monty Python guy.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:59 AM on August 3, 2006

oh wait... my bad. It was about one, not zero.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:34 AM on August 3, 2006

...he does mention zero while talking about one though. Kinda hard to talk about one without the other, idn't it?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2006

I particularly enjoyed this anectdote:
Reading the 9th edition of a book on Management Science (Taylor, 2007), I found the author dividing 2 by zero in a Simplex tableau performing a column ratio test, with the stated conclusion, 2 ÷ 0 = infinity (¥). A typographical error? Confusion? Willful sin?

A telephone call bringing the obvious error to the attention of the publisher for correction in future editions was met with an astonishing return call from the editor of the text still insisting that 2 ÷ 0 = ¥. Although both the author and editor insist on this computational outcome, they nonetheless somehow decline to continue the Simplex calculation based on this result, contrary to the logic of their conclusion.

"Management science" at its best.
posted by TedW at 8:59 AM on August 3, 2006

Biography of a Dangerous Ideais also worth reading, if you like this stuff.
posted by blackfly at 9:06 AM on August 3, 2006

0 is okay, as is e, but I like 1729.
posted by neuron at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2006

Mathematicians have gotta change their image to grab the public's imagination:
Too much of nothing just makes a fella mean, so let it out, man.
posted by cenoxo at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2006

The Surreal Numbers article, as promised.
posted by Eideteker at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2006

« Older Cricket Explained (An American Viewpoint)   |   The unstoppable Herr Reichel Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments