Download Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers Audiobook

Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers Audiobook, by Amir D. Aczel Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Amir D. Aczel Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2015 ISBN: 9781481523714
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The story of how we got our numbers—told through one mathematician’s journey to find zero

The invention of numerals is perhaps the greatest abstraction the human mind has ever created. Virtually everything in our lives is digital, numerical, or quantified. The story of how and where we got these numerals, which we so depend on, has for thousands of years been shrouded in mystery. Finding Zero is an adventure-filled saga of Amir Aczel’s lifelong obsession: to find the original sources of our numerals. Aczel has doggedly crisscrossed the ancient world, scouring dusty, moldy texts, cross examining so-called scholars who offered wildly differing sets of facts, and ultimately penetrating deep into a Cambodian jungle to find a definitive proof. Here, he takes the reader along for the ride.

The history begins with the early Babylonian cuneiform numbers, followed by the later Greek and Roman letter numerals. Then Aczel asks the key question: where do the numbers we use today, the so-called Hindu-Arabic numerals, come from? It is this search that leads him to explore uncharted territory, to go on a grand quest into India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and ultimately into the wilds of Cambodia. There he is blown away to find the earliest zero—the keystone of our entire system of numbers—on a crumbling, vine-covered wall of a seventh-century temple adorned with eaten-away erotic sculptures. While on this odyssey, Aczel meets a host of fascinating characters: academics in search of truth, jungle trekkers looking for adventure, surprisingly honest politicians, shameless smugglers, and treacherous archaeological thieves—who finally reveal where our numbers come from.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] captivating story, not just an intellectual quest but a personal one. His tale is gripping, filled with the passion and wonder of numbers.”

    New York Times

  • “Prolific mathematics writer Aczel leads a historical adventure that doubles as a surprisingly engaging math lesson…The story brims with local color, as well as insights into the history of mathematics and philosophy. Readers may find themselves questioning Aczel’s sanity, as his obsession with zero’s origins drives him from one dead end to the next, but it’s difficult to avoid being drawn into his quest with these rip-roaring exploits and escapades.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An exciting personal adventure reminding readers of how much nothing really means!”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The journey to zero is an adventure worth joining.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Amir Aczel (1950–2015) earned his PhD in mathematics from UC Berkeley and is the author of the acclaimed Fermat’s Last Theorum, which was published in twenty-two languages. In 2012 he was awarded a Sloan Foundation grant; in 2004 he was awarded the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. From 2005 to 2007, Aczel was a visiting scholar at Harvard. He was also a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University. He wrote for Discover magazine online, regularly published in Scientific American as well as science pieces for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He often interviewed about science on radio and television, including recent appearances on NPR’s Talk of the Nation’s Science Friday.

About the Narrator

Scott Brick, an acclaimed voice artist, screenwriter, and actor, has performed on film, television, and radio. He attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks. winning won more than fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.