Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

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Souvenir Press, Nov 28, 2019 - Mathematics - 170 pages

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshipped it, and the Christian Church used it to fend off heretics. Today it's a timebomb ticking in the heart of astrophysics. For zero, infinity's twin, is not like other numbers. It is both nothing and everything.

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. Within the concept of zero lies a philosophical and scientific history of humanity.

Charles Seife's elegant and witty account takes us from Aristotle to superstring theory by way of Egyptian geometry, Kabbalism, Einstein, the Chandrasekhar limit and Stephen Hawking. Covering centuries of thought, it is a concise tour of a world of ideas, bound up in the simple notion of nothing.

 

Contents

About the Author
Nothing Comes of Nothing
Nothing Ventured
The Infinite God of Nothing
Infinite Zeros and Infidel Mathematicians
Infinitys Twin
Absolute Zeros
Zero Hour at Ground Zero
Chapter Zeros Final Victory
Appendix E Make Your Own Wormhole Time Machine
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Charles Seife, a professor of journalism at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, has been writing about physics and mathematics for two decades. He is the author of six books, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, which won a PEN/Martha Albrand Award; Alpha & Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe; Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, From Our Brains to Black Holes; Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking, which won the 2009 Davis Prize from the History of Science Society; Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception; and Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You So, How Do You Know It's True? Seife holds an A.B. in mathematics from Princeton University, an M.S. in mathematics from Yale University, and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in New York City with his wife, Meridith, and his children, Eliza and Daniel.

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