Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Dangerous Idea, Indeed

If you've ever wondered what effect ZERO has on our world, this book will explain!  I finally finished it this week.  Parts of it fascinated me, and I got lost in other parts.  While theoretical math may be engrossing to some, I'm happy to be content with the idea that it exists, but I don't need to worry about it!

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous IdeaZero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At a recent teacher-training, the presenter shared the opening of this book as an example of excellent nonfiction writing.  He shared the first few pages and went on to describe the book as an interesting read.  I have to concur.  Charles Seife takes the idea of zero and illustrates how the concept has developed over time.  From a computer snafu that endangered an aircraft carrier, to geometry, physics, and highly abstract mathematics, the idea of zero has had a worldview altering effect.    This book took me a long time to read, several months in fact, because I was reading it during our weekly school-wide silent reading period, but also because the further I got into the book the more I had to re-read in order to understand the progression of ideas.  The first half of the book is fairly straightforward and easy to follow, but once Seife starts discussing higher mathematics, I got lost.  I think I got the general gist, but basically I got lost.  It does make me want to try to understand more about higher math however!

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