Maria-Hélèna Pacelli

The origin of zero

October 24, 2011


The universe is composed of infinite patterns. From those that constitute our behaviour as humans, to the fractals of dance that map the growth of flora, to the images that we can observe of constellations at astronomical levels.

In our search for meaning, we may come to belive in certain illusions so firmly that we cease to recognize that they are there. they become part of the backdrop. Only taking a step back and reducing time to a grinding halt is it possible to see things a little more closely to their essence.

Today I wandered into a book store on an errand and intuitively made my way through the shelves. Purchasing books is a bit of a fetish of mine and I had intended to hold back on this day and simply browse decadently without succumbing to the temptation to adopt one of these lovely works of art-knowldge and take it home to complete my collection.

As usual, one of them beckoned me, this lovely creature that speaks of mandalas and was decorated with luscious pictures the satisfy my craving for vernacular intercourse.

This book whispered to me sweet nothings about “A Brief History of No-Thing” and through this I learned about the simultaneous surrender and resistance of infinity. Indeed, the number zero melts into any numbers to which it is added without altering the number, but when multiplied, swallows other numbers up completely.

These are beautiful properties that remind me how beautifully calculated the universe is. We may imagine that we understand so much, and while looking more closely at patterns can yield fascinating observations about the infinite wisdom beheld in the universe’s mechanics, they often serve more pointedly to remind us of our own location of partial understanding.


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