ZERO

Minutes of the Group Discussion- CEV Date- 29/08/19

Yes, you read it right… The topic for the group discussion was Zero!! We had a similar kind of expression when the some CEVians put the topic on the table. We were stunned by this abstract topic and Zero was exactly the number of thoughts maximum of the participants had about the GD. What made this GD special was how spontaneous and creative it was. No one had a clue about the topic which meant no time for preparations and study.

As the discussion started, the first thing that popped on most of our minds was about the inventor of Zero, Aryabhatta.

Aryabhatta has published a lot of work in the field of algebra, an approximation of π, etc. But he is primarily known for his work in providing us with the wonder number Zero! It was evident that Aryabhatta opened up a lot in the field of mathematics, but also left many mysteries for us to unlock. For instance, we know that zero is that number if we multiply, the product is zero again. But still can’t determine what is the answer if we divide any number by zero.. Clearly he gave us something, whose applications are not that easy to interpret. There were talks about the physical interpretation of the number Zero. The word zero is translated to śūnya (Sanskrit: शूय) in Sanskrit which interprets as a sense of nothingness. And maybe that’s how we understand zero as in a physical way. We often see people referring others as HERO and ZERO. That zero is implementing that the person is nothing in comparison to the other. Also, we have seen a movie named “Zero displaying about a person with fewer abilities in comparison to others.

So in all, we can say that the term zero has a very negative physical interpretation in our life.  Things got a little philosophical when we all tried to step into Aryabhatta’s shoes and determine the reason behind the shape of the mathematical notation 0. Was it because he predicted the motion of planets around the sun? Or was it something to do with what he saw in real day to day life? Well, this reason died with him many years ago.

The discussion was swayed to applications of zero! Zero is probably one of the most important discoveries of all time. Before it’s discovery people rarely used numbers for anything beyond counting and so zero was not really required. You either had a sheep or you had none. But now we have evolved into a much better world with zero. We live in a world of computers which would not have been seen if not for zero because of its contribution in binary language, which is the language for computers. Zero has a wide application in the field of algebra and quantum physics too. Zero is considered as a base level for many concepts which build on to give many significant things in the world.  As we know, zero is the point between positive numbers and negative numbers i.e zero is between positivity and negativity. Applying this analogy to life, zero can be considered the origin of new ideas and thoughts which can push the person in any of the two directions which eventually decides the fate of a person’s future. Clearly we can see that zero has various applications in many fields, but there are very limited applications of the real meaning behind the term zero. Zero was coined to the sense of nothingness. There is almost no use of this sense in most of the applications of zero. Most applications work under the feel of assumptions. For instance, in the binary language, it was assumed that 0 and 1 will be the two things that the computer understands. If something else would have been assumed earlier, the world might have worked out the same. So while there are many applications of zero, the application of the essence of zero is still limited.  In a nutshell, when we thought there was nothing more to say about just a number, a few many things popped up. If mathematics is a spear, zero may be the sharp tip of it. To end I would like to say, zero is nothing but everything.

Minutes by Naman Mathur