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

Charles Seife
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. The ancient Egyptians used math to create what type of calendar?

2. When did Nicholas of Cusa live?

3. What was the fifth element that Aristotle proposed, in addition to earth, water, fire, and air?

4. What refers to a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church during the second half of the 16th Century?

5. When the Indians adopted a Babylonian style number system, its base was what, according to the author in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured”?

Short Essay Questions

1. How was zero dealt with in the Pythagorean view, according to the author in Chapter 2, “Nothing Comes of Nothing”?

2. How are ancient Babylonian mathematics described in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

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

4. What Italian mathematician was responsible for the introduction of zero to Christianity and the Western world, according to the author in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured”?

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

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

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

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

9. How did zero enter into Babylonian mathematics, according to the author in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Describe and discuss the work and discoveries of René Descartes, and the development of the Cartesian coordinate system. How did the Cartesian coordinate system affect geometry and algebra? How did Descartes relate his mathematical discoveries to his philosophies and theological beliefs?

Essay Topic 2

Describe and discuss the concept of the “limit” proposed by Jean Le Ron D'Alembert and its impact on calculus and mathematics. What impact did the discoveries of Jean Le Ron D'Alembert have on the concepts of zero and infinity?

Essay Topic 3

Describe and discuss the origins and history of mathematics within Islamic culture. When was the House of Wisdom built? Who first coined the term “algebra”? When was the term coined?

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