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A History of Pi

The magic of numbers is nothing new to the field of literature. Over the past two decades many popular books have explored the theme of immutable numbers and their special properties. A quarter of a century ago, the book “A History of Pi” took the nation by storm and mathematics became an interesting and publicly identifiable discipline rather than the realm of scientists. A newly published book on another mythical but immutable number has come to the national consciousness. Robert Kaplan’s book “The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero”. The number zero has many properties that make it unique over any other number. Deep in the heart of elementary mathematics, this is a term that we all learn and it is left unchanged whatever it is added to or subtracted from.
One of the advantages of Kaplan’s book over his competitors is his rich understanding of the history behind the number zero and his ability to narrate his findings in an extremely interesting manner. He explains that the acceptance of zero as a fundamental number with an actual arithmetical value was not an easy road, and that in fact it we now take for granted the power of the number itself. He fully explores the historical, intellectual and cultural aspects of the number zero and its evolution through our civilization. With many pauses on the specific time periods and their relationships with our modern world, he contextualizes the concept of zero and frames it within important historical moments in our society. This is one of the major advantages of the book. For instance, he details the creation of the zero and its debate while in the midst of Aristotle’s tutelage of Alexander the Great. He explains the controversy and how it impacted Greek society and the Greek tutelage. His ability to contextualize this number is crucial to our understanding and to develop a deeper meaning for this number.
Kaplan explains that the ideation of using only...

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A History of Pi. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:42, October 09, 2015, from