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Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers: Book by Amir D Aczel, PhD (Bentley College, USA)

Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers

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ISBN: 9781137279842    Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan Trade Year of publishing: 2015     Format:  Hardback No of Pages: 256 pp        
The story of how we got our numbers told through one mathematician's journey to find zero. The invention of numerals is perhaps the greatest abstraction the human mind has ever created. Virtually everything...Read more
The story of how we got our numbers told through one mathematician's journey to find zero. The invention of numerals is perhaps the greatest abstraction the human mind has ever created. Virtually everything in our lives is digital, numerical or quantified. The story of how and where we got these numerals, which we so depend on, has for thousands of years been shrouded in mystery. Finding Zero is an adventure filled saga of Amir Aczel's lifelong ob-session: to find the original sources of our numerals.

Aczel has doggedly crisscrossed the ancient world, scouring dusty, moldy texts, cross examining so-called scholars who offered wildly differing sets of facts and ultimately penetrating deep into a Cambodian jungle to find a definitive proof. Here, he takes the reader along for the ride. The history begins with the early Babylonian cuneiform num-bers, followed by the later Greek and Roman letter numerals. Then Aczel asks the key question: where do the numbers we use today, the so-called Hindu-Arabic numerals, come from? It is this search that leads him to explore uncharted territory, to go on a grand quest into India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and ultimately into the wilds of Cambodia. There he is blown away to find the earliest zero-the keystone of our entire sys-tem of numbers-on a crumbling, vine-covered wall of a sev-enth-century temple adorned with eaten-away erotic sculp-tures. While on this odyssey, Aczel meets a host of fascinat-ing characters: academics in search of truth, jungle trekkers looking for adventure, surprisingly honest politicians, shame-less smugglers and treacherous archaeological thieves-who finally reveal where our numbers come from.
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Review:
A captivating story, not just an intellectual quest but a personal one...[Aczel's] tale is gripping, filled with the passion and wonder of numbers.--Amir Alexander "The New York Times

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