New & Forthcoming
Directions & Parking
Shipping & Returns
The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero (New)
by Kaplan, Robert
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book ID: 9780195142372, 0195142373
Usually available in 3-5 days
A symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number it's added to, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox. As we enter the year 2000, zero is once again making its presence felt. Nothing itself, it makes possible a myriad of calculations. Indeed, without zero mathematics as we know it would not exist. And without mathematics our understanding of the universe would be vastly impoverished. But where did this nothing, this hollow circle, come from? Who created it? And what, exactly, does it mean?
Robert Kaplan's The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, and then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan shows us just how handicapped our ancestors were in trying to figure large sums without the aid of the zero. (Try multiplying CLXIV by XXIV). Remarkably, even the Greeks, mathematically brilliant as they were, didn't have a zero--or did they? We follow the trail to the East where, a millennium or two ago, Indian mathematicians took another crucial step. By treating zero for the first time like any other number, instead of a unique symbol, they allowed huge new leaps forward in computation, and also in our understanding of how mathematics itself works.
In the Middle Ages, this mathematical knowledge swept across western Europe via Arab traders. At first it was called "dangerous Saracen magic" and considered the Devil's work, but it wasn't long before merchants and bankers saw how handy this magic was, and used it to develop tools like double-entry bookkeeping. Zero quickly became an essential part of increasingly sophisticated equations, and with the invention of calculus, one could say it was a linchpin of the scientific revolution. And now even deeper layers of this thing that is nothing are coming to light: our computers speak only in zeros and ones, and modern mathematics shows that zero alone can be made to generate everything.
Robert Kaplan serves up all this history with immense zest and humor; his writing is full of anecdotes and asides, and quotations from Shakespeare to Wallace Stevens extend the book's context far beyond the scope of scientific specialists. For Kaplan, the history of zero is a lens for looking not only into the evolution of mathematics but into very nature of human thought. He points out how the history of mathematics is a process of recursive abstraction: how once a symbol is created to represent an idea, that symbol itself gives rise to new operations that in turn lead to new ideas. The beauty of mathematics is that even though we invent it, we seem to be discovering something that already exists.
The joy of that discovery shines from Kaplan's pages, as he ranges from Archimedes to Einstein, making fascinating connections between mathematical insights from every age and culture. A tour de force of science history, The Nothing That Is takes us through the hollow circle that leads to infinity.
Gnosis 19: The Trickster. A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions
"As long as we lie to ourselves, the Trickster will be with us.
He'll show up just when we least want him, to embarrass us on a
first date, to prove us fools in front of the learned company
we're trying to impress, to make us miss a power breakfast with
that all-important business contact."
- Richard Smoley, from the introduction
Contents -- Spring 1991
Deconstructing Gurdjieff: Biography of a Spiritual Magician
Inner Traditions / Bear & Company
In November 1949, architect Frank Lloyd Wright announced the death of "the greatest man in the world," yet few knew who he was talking about. Enigmatic, misunderstood, declared a charlatan, and recently dubbed "the Rasputin who inspired Mary Poppins," Gurdjieff's life has become a legend. But who really was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff?
Employing the latest research and discoveries, including previously unpublished reminiscences of the real man, Tobias Churton investigates the truth beneath th...
The Complete Mystical Records of Dr. John Dee: Transcribed from the 16th-Century Manuscripts Documen
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
A lavishly packaged, two-volume box set containing the most faithful and accurate versions of John Dee's journals ever published. This is a must-have treasure for Dee aficionados and esoteric scholars who absolutely need the most meticulously detailed version of these highly influential works. A labor of love twenty years in the making, these volumes include transcripts of four manuscripts from the British Library and one from the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Two of these manuscripts have never b...More
Grimoire of the Baron Citadel: The Book of the Four Ways.
Three Hands Press
As the governor of the Dead and the burial ground, the Baron Samedi is one of the most distinctive and potent loa of Haitian Vodou. An imposing figure in black raiment, he is most often pictured as a corpse. His other magical domains, less discussed in esoteric literature, include disruption, obscenity and -- importantly for the practicing sorcerer -- not only the arts of Magic but the very fabric of which it is made.
Emergent from the spiritual crossroads of traditional Vodou and English w...