Segments in this Video

Time on Earth (03:04)


Talithia Williams discusses what it would be like to explain timekeeping on Earth to an alien. Mathematics has never been a universal language and the idea of zero and infinity took longer to develop than other numbers.

Zero (03:31)

When most people learn to count, they start with one. Many ancient civilizations that had mathematics and numeral systems did not have the concept of zero. Many viewed zero as a placeholder not a number.

First Zero (04:05)

The modern idea of zero originates from India about 1,700 years ago. Mathematician Manjul Bhargava explains how zero grew out of Indian philosophical traditions and mediation. Zero also pulls from the omission of sounds found in linguistic studies of Sanskrit.

History of Zero (03:11)

The idea that zero came from Indian philosophical and linguistic traditions is only a theory until experts discover the Bakhshali manuscript. Carbon dating reveals it is 500 years older than originally thought. Mathematician Brahmgupta wrote out the rules of zero and negative numbers in the seventh century.

Indian System (07:51)

Calculating and storing with numerals grew out of the Indian System; the Islamic Empire helped spread the system. Experts translated and studied texts about Indian mathematics in the empire's intellectual center of Baghdad before spreading across Europe.

Zero in Division (06:32)

Zero does not follow the same rules as other numbers in division. It creates an undefined answer and Zeno's Paradox. Eric Bennett explains the paradox using an arrow.

Infinity (09:23)

Zero is a limit in division because it can never be reached. Limits create the basis of infinity in calculus. Professor Steve Strogatz explains the concept with pizza.

History of Infinity (04:16)

Infinity was not fully understood until the 1920s. Mathematician Eugenia Cheng explains it through the thought experiment of Hilbert's Hotel.

Set Theory (08:05)

David Hilbert created the idea of Hilbert's Hotel using Georg Cantor's idea of set theory. A set is a well-defined collection of things. The infinity of different sets of numbers are countable or uncountable.

Credits: "Zero to Infinity" (01:11)

Credits: "Zero to Infinity"

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Zero to Infinity

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Zero and infinity. These seemingly opposite, obvious and indispensable concepts are relatively recent human inventions. Discover the surprising story of how these key concepts that revolutionized mathematics came to be—not just once, but over and over again as different cultures invented and re-invented them across thousands of years.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL283068

Copyright date: ©2022

Closed Captioned

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