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1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
posted by Anonymous on November 25, 2005Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Choose another Zero book
posted by Victor3000 on March 20, 2011Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 22, 2001
Seife's book is overwrought, heavy on style and woefully weak (even inaccurate) on substance. His writing style is hyperbolic and filled with inane puns about the number zero (as can be seen in the chapter names). He goes way overboard in estimating the Greeks' attitude toward the number zero; as quite a bit of scholarship has shown, the number was not some kind of bete noire to the Greeks, rather, they simply found no need to incorporate it as a placeholder because of their geometric mathematical focus and the counting systems they used in commerce. Seife gets confused about the history of Aristotelianism in Europe-- he states that it basically kept Europe in the Dark Ages, while the Arab civilization (which imparted the numeric system containing zero to Europe in the late Middle Ages) rejected Aristotelian thought. In fact, as any middle school history student could point out, Europe was in the Dark Ages in large part because it almost totally forgot Aristotle's work. Though clearly many of Aristotle's ideas would turn out to be incorrect, his observational and scientific approach to things was crucial to eventually beginning the Age of Reason. In fact, one of the Arabs' greatest contributions to the history of thought was that they *translated* Aristotle into Arabic and studied it thoroughly, then transmitted this new learning and way of thought into Europe in about the 1200s. Seife mixes this up entirely. His descriptions of Newtonian and Leibnizian calculus are not bad, but when he gets into the cosmology and the physics he's way out of his league. One of the most fascinating things about 20th century science is the way in which Einstein's work and quantum physics have both totally revised the notion of the vacuum, filling it with activity of many stripes-- but Seife glosses this over in a few poorly written pages, and misses the whole point of what modern work has shown about the field. This is not the book to read about this topic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2000
Zero is less than Zero
Zero was just that. Probably one of the worst books I have ever read, taking the reader on a confusing, sleepy and boring ride through the beginging of time and every step in Seife's own lame, irrelevant and unfocused timeline of an interesting idea. Very disappointing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.