June 23, 2021


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Book Tip: How Zero Came Out of Nothingness

Book Tip: How Zero Came Out of Nothingness

God Should Have a Good Sense of Humor: One of the most interesting facts, for example, is the number zero and how people came to its meaning. Italian Umberto Bottazzini has written a book worth reading that has now been published in German. It concerns the shortest history of mathematics, the book says.

Bottazzini is professor of the history of mathematics in Milan. For 25 years he was responsible for a column in an Italian daily on “The Mathematician”. This resulted in a book now published by dtv-Verlag: How Zero Came Out of Nothingness and Other Great Moments in Mathematics.

Listen to book review by Mario Galgano

It tells you what a revolution was when an unknown genius scored the first numbers. Butazini says this marked the beginning of the triumph of mathematics. Suddenly everything has a value that can be measured, calculated and calculated. This is also linked to theology and the life of faith. They are important moments that continue to be seen in all creation. The math professor recounts, in six short chapters, how mathematics conquered our world.

There is no doubt that the book’s protagonists – and the entire math success story – are numbers. These appear over and over again in the Bible. Even the great philosophers from Pythagoras to Leibniz, from Descartes to today’s thinkers, have used mathematics to represent their concept of the world or revolutionize arithmetic.

The book is also interesting when it comes to dealing with cultural differences. Example: Was the number of Chinese different from Europeans? Or, when it comes to the issue of imaginary numbers, new worlds open up for the reader, who may not necessarily be the best and most interested math student. In search of answers, Bottazzini combines mathematical background knowledge with an enchanting conquest of literature, art and philosophy. Therefore, the book is not recommended only for fans of numbers and math stars.

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To take notes:

Umberto Puzzini: How Zero Out of Nothingness and Other Great Moments in Mathematics. Published by dtv-Verlag. The price is around 18 euros.

Review of Mario Galgano.

(Vatican News)