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At Vox: The number zero is weird

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From Brian Resnick at Vox:

Zero is in the mind, but not in the sensory world,” Robert Kaplan, a Harvard math professor and an author of a book on zero, says. Even in the empty reaches of space, if you can see stars, it means you’re being bathed in their electromagnetic radiation. In the darkest emptiness, there’s always something. Perhaps a true zero — meaning absolute nothingness — may have existed in the time before the Big Bang. But we can never know.

Nevertheless, zero doesn’t have to exist to be useful. In fact, we can use the concept of zero to derive all the other numbers in the universe.

Kaplan walked me through a thought exercise first described by the mathematician John von Neumann. It’s deceptively simple.

Interesting experiment but this next part is just rot:

We humans might have only come to understand zero as a number 1,500 years ago. What the experiments on bees and monkeys show us is that it’s not just the work of our ingenuity. It’s also, perhaps, the culminating work of evolution. More.

Bees do not understand the concept of zero. If they did, they would be designing computers. Bees know that they should stop looking for a reward after a certain point. But a naturalist needs to see something that isn’t there. It’s the sameprinciple as IQ tests are unfair to apes?

See also: Here’s some zero fun: Is zero even?

Let's adjust: "Zero [any number] is in [contemplated by] the mind, but [is an abstraction,] not [a concrete entity] in the sensory world." kairosfocus

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