Monday, February 12, 2007

Stuff I'm Reading Lately

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Well, it's been two years now and I am still working my away through Daniel Dennett's "Consciousness Explained", and I might add, without much success in mastering "heterophenomenology". I do however, much appreciate that Dennett takes a completely naturalistic approach to a very mystical subject. If you have the stomach for some real thinking about awareness, experience, and time, Dennett is an awesome read. Maybe someday I might even finish it, but I have to chip away at this book in spurts when due diligence and patience are available.

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As a member of the Scientific American book club, I come accross some great deals on some incredible and interesting books from all branches of science and mathematics. Some, especially those concerned with mathematics and higher physics, are a bit beyond what I would call 'entertainment reading' and frankly, much of the material is above what I am interested in tackling at this point.

"Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" is not another one of those boring mathematical treatises requiring one to reference college texts in order to understand and enjoy the book. It is a trail through a concept turned practical and then heretical and back again, tracing the roots and tribulations of zero. I highly recommend it even for non-math people, as the author does a great job explaining even complicated equations in their context. It offers a phenomenal lesson in philosophy and history as well. (ISBN 0-670-88457-X)



Baal Habos said...

I think I'd be unconscious by the time I finished reading it! Good Luck.

Madhuri said...

I haven't read Zero, but I'd heard that it was ancient Indians who added the zero to the 9 numbers developed by some other culture - traders or someone. Can you share something of the history of the emergence of the zero, having read the book? Thanks.

Shlomo said...

Suffice it to say that zero was around for a long time before it arrived and was accepted by the west. Aristotle rejected the idea of zero and therefore the Church resisted it for centuries.

The Babylonians are likely responsible.It was in their number system that zero began being used as a placeholder or filler. Interestingly enough, the Mayans always had a glyph for zero, which explained why their calendars were so precise.