“The mathematical sages of India conceived of this concept, and started on the path of the creation of zero back in the ninth century BC. The root of the word is in the Sanskrit Shoonya, meaning ‘it is a void’, which got passed on to the Arabs, who knew the symbol as ‘Safira.’

The Western world came to the concept extraordinarily late, when Venetian merchants stumbled across it and brought it back to their homeland, where it was known as ‘zefiro‘–later corrupted to ‘zero.’ The concept gradually spread through Europe, reading such far-flung outposts as the British Isles in the late sixteenth century.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.