Zilch. Nada. Bupkis. Yes, I’m taking about Zero (0), a number that seems so essential to our system of numbers, and yet it hasn’t always enjoyed such a privileged place. Far from it.
In this short animation, Britain’s venerable Royal Institution traces the history of zero, a number that emerged in seventh century India, before making its way to China and Islamic countries, and finally penetrating Western cultures in the 13th century. Only later did it become the cornerstone of calculus and the language of computing.
India, we owe you thanks.
If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.
If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!