Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea Test | Mid-Book Test - Medium

Charles Seife
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This test consists of 5 multiple choice questions, 5 short answer questions, and 10 short essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. The USS Yorktown was located off the coast of what location when the computer systems malfunctioned in September of 1997?
(a) Cape Charles, Virginia.
(b) Havana, Cuba.
(c) Del Norte, California.
(d) New York, New York.

2. In September of 1997, a crewmember entered a zero into the database field on the computers of the USS Yorktown, leading to what type of error?
(a) A divide by zero error.
(b) An addition by zero error.
(c) A subtraction by zero error.
(d) A multiply by zero error.

3. The ancient Mayans used a numeral system that was based on what increment?
(a) 3.
(b) 20.
(c) 10.
(d) 5.

4. Pythagoreanism was a cult that greatly influenced what philosophical system?
(a) Platonism.
(b) Hinduism.
(c) Athenism.
(d) Buddhism.

5. The author states in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured” that the Indians borrowed Greek geometry but never worried about what?
(a) Recording or calculating area.
(b) The Pythagorean Theorem.
(c) The diagonal of the square.
(d) Symbols for numerals.

Short Answer Questions

1. When did Nicholas of Cusa live?

2. What work by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations in Arabic?

3. Filippo Brunelleschi was born in approximately what year?

4. The author states in Chapter 2, “Nothing Comes of Nothing” that the concepts of infinity and the void frightened the ancient Greeks. They feared the infinite because it threatened the possibility of what?

5. Zero is the only number that when added to itself does what?

Short Essay Questions

1. What mathematical properties of zero presented problems in the ancient world, according to the author in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

2. What results came about when Indian mathematicians began separating numbers from shapes, according to the author in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured”?

3. How does the author describe the ancient Greek and Roman mathematical systems in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

4. Where does the author claim zero was “born” in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”? How was zero involved in early mathematics?

5. How did Aristotle approach the concept of zero, according to the author in Chapter 2, “Nothing Comes of Nothing”?

6. How does the concept of zero relate to the beliefs of Hinduism?

7. What mathematical advancements were made by the ancient Egyptians?

8. What caused the USS Yorktown to have a computer meltdown in 1997, according to the author in Chapter 0, “Null and Void”? How is the ship described?

9. How are multiplication and division involving zero described in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

10. How does the author assert zero’s existence has been responsible for mathematical progress in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

(see the answer keys)

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