Saturday, November 1, 2014


Cunningham, Kevin.  Zero.  Morgan Reynolds  2013  64p  $27.45     ISBN 978-1-59935-39-2   elem/ms  series: The Biography of Numbers  Nonfiction  E-BN              

The concept of nothing did not develop until man started building complex societies with a need to record quantities: how much property, how far, how heavy, or how much profit.  The first idea of nothing was probably put forth by the Egyptians who used numbers to design the pyramids.

However, it wasn’t until an Indian astronomer
born in 598 CE finished his scientific masterpiece that zero was discussed as a number.  This idea of zero and looking at numbers as an abstract concept allowed the development of the concept of positive and negative numbers.  In 1200, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo published a book on mathematics that was based on nine Indian figures: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and the sign 0.  This changed Western mathematics. Fibonacci’s practical examples of this system revolutionized commerce.  As the author says, “the concept of zero made today’s science and technology possible.”

The inclusion of photographs, several lists
on where to obtain more information, and a glossary/index makes this a useful research tool. The inclusion of web sites for youngsters is also important in school classrooms today.  Up-to-date photographs and web sites further enhance the information in the book.
The flow and balance of the text and full-color visuals are integrated to present a very stimulating book for young and reluctant readers.
This book is one in the Biography of Numbers series.  The series consists of four books at this time.  The general theme of the series is mathematics. The books include: Pi, Zero, Measurement, and Numerals. 

Summary: The concept of nothing did not develop until man started building complex societies.  The first idea about nothing was probably put forth by the Egyptians.  Without the concept of zero, today’s science and technology would not be possible.     

Mathematics, History of Mathematics             --Linda McNeil

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