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. What god within Hinduism represents both creator and destroyer?

2. The author states in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured” that for the Indians, numerals without geometric significance gave birth to what field of mathematics?

3. The Gregorian calendar replaced what calendar system in 1582?

4. Whom does the author claim the Greeks learned about astronomy from in Chapter 2, “Nothing Comes of Nothing”?

5. Where was Giordano Bruno from?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What reason does the author give for why the Greeks and Romans resisted using zero in their mathematical systems in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

3. How did zero enter into Indian mathematics, according to the author in Chapter 3, “Nothing Ventured”?

4. What advancements in mathematics were made by René Descartes?

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

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

7. What inventions is Blaise Pascal credited with, according to the author in Chapter 4, “The Infinite God of Nothing”?

8. What is the focus of the book, as established by the author in Chapter 0, “Null and Void”?

9. What mathematical developments was Pythagoras credited with in ancient Greece?

10. How does the author describe the early counting systems of prehistoric mathematics in Chapter 1, “Nothing Doing”?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the biography and the mathematical and philosophical contributions of Archimedes of Syracuse. How did Archimedes first encounter the infinite? How did this discovery influence his work and the work of mathematicians after him?

Essay Topic 2

Describe and discuss the biography and the philosophical, artistic, and mathematical contributions of Aristotle. How influential were Aristotle’s ideas in the formation of Western culture? How does the concept of zero impact Aristotle’s view?

Essay Topic 3

Define and discuss imaginary numbers and their impact on algebra and mathematic philosophy. Who discovered imaginary numbers and when? How do imaginary numbers behave in comparison to real numbers?

(see the answer keys)

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