Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

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Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Zero - The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.gif
Softcover edition
AuthorCharles Seife
CountryUnited States
SubjectZero, nothingness
PublishedFebruary 7, 2000
PublisherViking Adult
Media typePrint, e-book
Pages256 pp.
Followed byAlpha & Omega 

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea is a non-fiction book by American author and journalist Charles Seife.[1][2] The book was initially released on February 7, 2000, by Viking.


The book offers a comprehensive look at number 0 and its controverting role as one of the great paradoxes of human thought and history since its invention by the ancient Babylonians or the Indian people. Even though zero is a fundamental idea for the modern science, initially the notion of a complete absence got a largely negative, sometimes hostile, treatment by the Western world and Greco-Roman philosophy.[3] Zero won 2001 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction Book.


Of course, Seife's book is not a typical biography. There are no tell-all interviews with the number one or any of zero's other neighbors on the number line... Seife's book begins—of course—at Chapter Zero, with a story of how only recently a divide by zero error in its control software brought the guided missile cruiser USS Yorktown grinding to a halt. As Seife relates, "Though it was armored against weapons, nobody had thought to defend the Yorktown from zero. It was a grave mistake." Maybe it's not the pulse-pounding drama of a Tom Clancy novel, but it's enough foreshadowing to launch Seife on an essay which begins with notches on a 30,000-year-old wolf bone and ends with the role of zero in black holes and the big bang.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife". Retrieved 2015-07-13.
  2. ^ Moskowitz, Clara (March 25, 2013). "What is nothing? Physicists debate". Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  3. ^ Suplee, Curt (January 12, 2000). "The History of Zero". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  4. ^ Leahy, Andrew (April 15, 2000). "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife". Retrieved 2015-07-15.

External links[edit]