Much ado about nothing

I see that I have hit a chord talking about nothing. Unfortunately for you out there in bloggville, I happen to be quite the expert dealing with nothing, in particular. The history of the concept of nothing is varied and oddly interesting to me. Yes, I find nothing interesting. Shut up.

So the concept of a place holding symbol, a zero, if you will, is a fairly modern one. Why do I bring up the 0, the zed, the zero? Well, noble reader, the place holder digit signifies nothing. “So how did this gem of a goose egg come about?” you nervously ask. Here we go.

Well in our western culture the idea of zero came about rather slowly. It seems that Europeans were scared of the Saracens and their black magic 0-math. German accountants had difficulties with this idea as well. In their ledgers they tallied debts in red and assets in black (ergo “in the red,” and “in the black”), but they ran into trouble when their ledgers actually balanced between assets and debts for a balance of nothing. They had no way of denoting nothing. At this point Europeans used the 0 as a place holder, i.e. for the tens and hundreds place (a Hindi bit of knowledge and practice stolen by the Greeks, appropriated by the Persians, lost by the Romans and rediscovered by somebody, I forget who, but I will say it was the Italians) for some time, but they still didn’t have a firm grasp on signifying nothing. At least not until the late middle ages.

Oddly enough, the Mayans had 0 down pat around 700 BC, go figure. I could go on, but I am even boring myself.

To recap:
And Wifey thought my history of mathematics class wouldn’t come in handy
This is why you should not let your children major in math
Really, keep you children away from math history classes, it will rot their brain
This is all I am really good for
The Ancient Egyptians did not have a very good way to calculate the area of a triangle
That is why the pyramids are all 4-sided
Did you know that people have died in shoot-outs because of arguments over who “created” differential calculus?
Oh, God! Kill me now

I promis, I will write about something tomorrow