|Zero - the biography of a dangerous idea
|Souvenir press||ISBN: 0285635867
Zero is a strange sort of number - for instance division by zero in a computer program causes all sorts of problems. This book is a look at the development of the concept of zero, and infinity, zero's twin, from ancient times to recent discoveries in cosmology and quantum physics. Aristotle tried to hide paradoxes associated with zero, with pronouncments such as 'Nature abhors a vacuum'. This held back the development of mathematics in the West, while in the East zero was accepted and the subject flourished. Eventually the usefulness of zero was accepted in the West, and mathematics took off agian, leading to the use of infinitesimals and the development of the calculus. I felt that the book would be very useful to someone learning calculus, as it gives a clear description of the ideas behind the subject.