Author Topic: Earliest Zero  (Read 518 times)

Recusant

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Earliest Zero
« on: September 17, 2017, 07:29:02 AM »
For many years, the earliest known example of a zero was an inscription in stone in Gwailor, India, dated to approximately 500 AD. Now, an even earlier example has been found in a manuscript that dates from the 3rd or 4th century.

"Carbon dating reveals earliest origins of zero symbol" | BBC

Quote

Reading from right to left the small dot zero is the seventh character
at the bottom right of the manuscript. Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries


Carbon dating shows an ancient Indian manuscript has the earliest recorded origin of the zero symbol.

The Bakhshali manuscript is now believed to date from the 3rd or 4th Century, making it hundreds of years older than previously thought.

It means the document, held in Oxford, has an earlier zero symbol than a temple in Gwailor, India.

The finding is of "vital importance" to the history of mathematics, Richard Ovenden from Bodleian Libraries said.

The zero symbol evolved from a dot used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript.

Other ancient cultures like the Mayans and Babylonians also used zero symbols, but the dot the Bakhshali manuscript developed a hollow centre to become the symbol we use today.

It was also only in India where the zero developed into a number in its own right, the Bodleian Libraries added.

Earlier research had dated the Bakhshali manuscript to the 8th and 12th century, but now carbon dating has shown it to be centuries older.

[Continues . . .]
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Tank

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Re: Earliest Zero
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 07:33:55 AM »
How interesting. I'm reading Are Numbers Real by Brian Clegg and he brings up the subject of zero and where and when it appeared.
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Dave

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Re: Earliest Zero
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 08:30:04 AM »
The dot is still used for zero in Arabic. The lower numbers seem to be formed from the number of "lines" that form them, five possibly was a pentagon but now looks more like a rounded triangle or even a circle at times.



Whilst checking the above I found an image of the full Bakhshali number set (in Wiki) for interest.



Hmm, history of numbers seems as interesting as the history of the alphabet (on which I have a couple or three books) and seems to have followed a similar pattern of spread, only from a different source. Wish I had known more of this when I had a heated discussion with  a Muslim who claimed they invented the concept of zero! Like nany other Islamic claims in maths and science they learned it from India. They may, however, have Introduced the concept of zero to medieval Eurooe, via their colony in Spain.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 04:42:18 PM by Dave »
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Recusant

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Re: Earliest Zero
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 04:36:00 PM »
There's an interesting parallel between wide Muslim claims to have invented this, that & t'other, and similar Soviet era Russian claims. Though neither are entirely incorrect the impulse behind the over-reaching propagandistic element--generally aimed at the 'home audience'--may be the same. That is, an attempt to shore up claims regarding the superiority of the ideology.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Dave

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Re: Earliest Zero
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2017, 04:57:53 PM »
There's an interesting parallel between wide Muslim claims to have invented this, that & t'other, and similar Soviet era Russian claims. Though neither are entirely incorrect the impulse behind the over-reaching propagandistic element--generally aimed at the 'home audience'--may be the same. That is, an attempt to shore up claims regarding the superiority of the ideology.

When I had access to ham radio in Cyprus, in the early 60s, we were a favourite ssb contact for the Russians, there were only 4 or 5 hams on that system on the island and we were a foreign armed service. All hams exchange QSL - contact verified - cards to collect. The Russian ones were, of course, always very patriotic. Gospodin Popov, the inventor of radio, was a favourite
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Re: Earliest Zero
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 01:33:23 AM »
Last year I read a book dedicated to the subject of zero. If memory serves the book was titled; Finding Zero.  A professor at an American university was on a well financed sabbatical in southeast Asia, trying to find the origin of the concept.  He searched and researched long and arduously to find the first use of the concept of  zero.  The book was persuasive because of all his sincere and academically satisfactory pursuit of history.

He finally found what he believed to be the first use of the symbol and its ramifications in ....a jungle temple in Cambodia.  He had the decency to agree that that might not have been the most ancient evidence of the Zero. In any case he narrowed the origin down to a smaller space.  Cambodia? Who'd a' thunk it? .....But then that area has not always been the third world that we currently presume it to be.