Saturday, July 07, 2007

Origin of the zero

SciAm magazine reports:
The first recorded zero appeared in Mesopotamia around 3 B.C. The Mayans invented it independently circa 4 A.D. It was later devised in India in the mid-fifth century, spread to Cambodia near the end of the seventh century, and into China and the Islamic countries at the end of the eighth. Zero reached western Europe in the 12th century.
There was no year zero. The year 1 BC was followed by the year 1 AD. That is because the zero had not been invented yet. So when was it invented? It turns out that, as far as we know, it could have been invented in what would have been the year zero!


Joel said...

Presumably it was only much later, after the time of Jesus' birth was recognized as a significant date,that the notions of BC and AD developed. Thus the lack of a notion of year 0 occurred much later.

Roger said...

Maybe they discovered 0 by counting down 3, 2, 1 BC.