Archive for February 22nd, 2012

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Thoughts    Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, Viking Penguin 2000, 248 pages.

Hardback; from the library. Nonfiction: Science genre.

FIRST Sentence: “Zero hit the USS Yorktown like a torpedo.”

I loved that this started with a story of how a computer program includes a zero where a zero should never be: in the denominator of a fraction; in a “CANNOT-HAPPEN” equation that attempts to divide something by zero. Program fails, engines seize, big boat stops. In this case, a billion-dollar missile cruiser stuck on the open seas.

The history was fascinating but a little over-bearing and repetitive that “zero was bad.” A few uninteresting tidbits that stopped the narrative for me and made me question why these tidbits were included. Sure, a fair share of complicated mathematical concepts that didn’t inspire me to think at all.

RECOMMENDED for math geeks and ‘odd subject’ historians; possibly for fans of the Big Bang Theory TV show.

FINAL Thought(s):  One of the more difficult to write reviews because I fail to find the words for why this didn’t captivate me as much as I had hoped.

RATING: Three slices of pie. Coconut pie because it seems you either love coconut or hate it. Infinity or zero.

  

OTHER Reviews:  Eva at A Striped Armchair mentions this in a lengthy post from 2009.

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

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I prefer pi.

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