As stated in the “Zero, The Biography of a Dangerous Idea” by Charles Seife - “the Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshipped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics. For centuries, the power of zero savored of the demonic; once harnessed, became the most important tool in mathematics. (Zero has journeyed through history) as an Eastern philosophical concept (and struggled) to gain acceptance in Europe, and (has become) the apotheosis of the mystery of the black hole. Today, zero lies at the heart of one of the biggest scientific controversies of all time, the quest for a theory of everything...” Yes! That’s zero. For centuries together, the use of zero in numerical system has been quite controversial. Many theories have been formulated on this concept, with some even drawing comparisons between this symbol, and the Supreme Power, stating that the existence of this symbol is contentious and debatable just like God Himself. Do you know the history of zero - as to how it came into being?
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Zero
Different cultures and civilizations have played a part in inventing and formulating the concept of zero. Of them, the contributions made by the Babylonians of Egypt and the Hindus of India are worth mentioning. The complex and sophisticated Sexagesimal (base-60) Positional numeral system of the Babylonian mathematics showed a gap in between the numerals to indicate a positional value (or zero). In 300 BCE, a punctuation symbol (indicated by two slant wedges) was used to fill the gap. The origin of this symbol evoked much speculation and conjectures among the Greeks, who were uncertain about the status of zero as a number. The paradoxes of Zeno of Elea (Greek philosopher), or his philosophical examination and evaluation of the infinite, heavily depended on the doubtful interpretation of zero.
It was only in India, during the early part of the 9th century, that the concept of zero gained significant importance and the digit was allotted a place in the numerical system. Zero was actually used for the purpose of calculating and as much importance was given to it as to the other digits. Renowned and contemporary Indian scholars began using zero as a number and used a Sanskrit word úûnya to denote this. Even before the Indians began to use zero, several attempts were made to perceive it as a number and not merely a symbol. In this respect, the contributions made by the Romans can be cited, who denoted this symbol as nulla (meaning nothing). The Pre-Columbian Maya civilization used a Vigesimal numeral system called the Maya numerals, which made use of zero as a ‘placeholder’, denoted by a shell-like structure.
The oldest known text to make use of a decimal place-value system, with a zero included, is the Lokavibhâga text of the Jain culture of India. To symbolize the digit zero, they made use of a small circle, and illustrations of this text can be still found in the Chaturbhuja Temple at Gwalior (India). In these inscriptions, one can find a number of documents on copper plates, with a small zero in them. This symbol and the positional number system, developed by the scholars of India, were later introduced to the Islamic civilization by Al-Khwarizmi. In his book on arithmetic, Khwarizmi made his own contributions in providing significant explanation on the usage of zero. He also synthesized the information provided on zero by the Hindu and the Greek scholars.
Though Khwarizmi had written his book earlier, it was only during the later years of the 12th century that his findings and the Arabic numeral system was revealed to the rest of the world, through Latin translations of his arithmetic. Later, Brahmagupta also elaborated on the rules for the use of zero in his book Brahmasputha Siddhanta (The Opening of the Universe). In the 16th century, the Italian mathematician Fibonacci brought the Arabic numeral system to Europe and zero soon came into common usage all through the continent. Within some time, the digit came to be used extensively all over the world. Quite interestingly, it is impossible to imagine modern mathematics of today, without a zero!