Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Book: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Author: Charles Seife
Rating: 5/5

Heresy within Numerology

"Zero" falls into a very narrow category of books that can be considered a work of art. From the cover to the interesting last name of the author (near to that of Cypher) to the chapter titles to the way that each consecutive chapter integrates with its predecessors. Do not be fooled by the deceptive size of this book, as the thoughts it inspires may fill your notebooks and empty the ink from your pens.

The book centers on the twins--Zero and Infinity. These two heretics are abhorred by nature, yet have been sirens to many of the greatest minds this world has ever known. It begins with the chapter "Null and Void", where the implosive power of Zero disables the USS Yorktown. Once the book has opened with such a display of power, it immediately travels backwards in time to when mortals first discovered these two forces. It then follows a trail paved with lunatics who dared seek the twins.

Even the non-numerically oriented should find inspiration and insight buried between the lines and diagrams of this book. The admixture of mathematics, physics and philosophy--even alchemy--leaves open this book's audience to varied membership.

On a closing note, I've worked with high school drop-outs who are trying to get their GED but have difficulty with the math. I've used this book on multiple occasions to get them interested and burning for math so that they want to gobble up every number. It really is an amazing turnaround for an unnecessarily dry subject.

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