Fans of Schoolhouse Rock may know it as “My Hero Zero“, but do you know the how the mathematical concept arose? An animated video from The Royal Institution tells the story of how we got something from nothing.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


5 Thoughts on "A History of Nothing"

I share the fascination with zero, especially with the notion that one can hold the concept of something in one’s mind without a physical manifestation (zero elephants), an imaginary concept (a cross between a zebra and elephant — a zelephant?), or whether a paper published in a peer reviewed journal is really published if it was reviewed by zero reviewers (aka F1000Research).

For those interested in further exploring this topic, I highly recommend reading Charles Seife’s “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea”. A real treat.

What a great find. I will share with my daughter this weekend.

As a non-mathematician I’m puzzled that anyone would spend time trying to divide by zero. This simply means that the number is not divided by anything, so it remains the same. If I am missing something I hope someone will point it out!

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