Maria Popova (@brainpicker) tweeted at 6:01 AM – 30 Jun 2018 :

“If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world.”

Fascinating read on the invention of zero: (

The story begins some 5,000 years ago with the Sumerians, those lively people who settled in Mesopotamia (part of what is now Iraq). When you read, on one of their clay tablets, this exchange between father and son: “Where did you go?” “Nowhere.” “Then why are you late?”, you realize that 5,000 years are like an evening gone.


Names belong to things, but zero belongs to nothing. It counts the totality of what isn’t there. By this reasoning it must be everywhere with regard to this and that: with regard, for instance, to the number of humming-birds in that bowl with seven — or now six — apples. Then what does zero name? It looks like a smaller version of Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, having no there there.


never nothing

of math and men

fractal thinking

zero zero