# What do you love about zero?April 1, 2010 3:12 PM   Subscribe

My favorite number is 0. I have many reasons for this, but I want more.

Does anyone have any good stories, proofs, quotations, etc. involving this beautiful, dangerous, and intriguing number?
posted by junipero to Science & Nature (38 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

I like ballplayers who wear 0 or 00 as uniform numbers.
posted by fixedgear at 3:19 PM on April 1, 2010

0 is like Switzerland.
posted by pwally at 3:26 PM on April 1, 2010

Zero is neither positive nor negative.

Zero is so powerful that it turns anything multiplied by it into itself. That's so powerful there isn't even a word for it, unless you're some kind of math geek or German or something.
posted by Etrigan at 3:34 PM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

I love how mathematics' four greatest values, e, π, i, and 1, unite to form...0:

e^(πi) - 1 = 0
posted by spamguy at 3:41 PM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

It has lots of names and nicknames: zip, nada, null, nullo, love (from tennis), the big egg, etc. You couldn't argue that, say, 27 has as many nicknames.
posted by workerant at 3:47 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Zero is so powerful that it turns anything multiplied by it into itself. Similarly, zero can not be divided. Its role as a divisor, however, leads to fun mathematical fallacies and spurious proofs. For example:

3*0 = 0 and
7*0 = 0 therefore
3*0 = 7*0 and so divide each side by zero to reduce this equation to:
3=7

I also like the idioms "patient zero" and ground zero."
posted by carmicha at 3:55 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

e^(πi) - 1 = 0
Actually, it's -2. e^(πi) + 1 = 0
posted by sanko at 4:05 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

The center of the 0 is filled with the possibility that can only come from emptiness.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:06 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" is one of my all time favorite books...should have mentioned that!
posted by junipero at 4:12 PM on April 1, 2010

Another book, mainly about the origin of 0: The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero
posted by k. at 4:12 PM on April 1, 2010

Appending a zero to any number multiplies it by ten (1, 10, 100, 1000, etc.), but prepending it to any number does not change it at all (1, 01, 001, etc.).

Also, you can be saved by zero.
posted by googly at 4:13 PM on April 1, 2010

posted by Robot Johnny at 4:15 PM on April 1, 2010

Maybe you would also like the coolest Wikipedia category.
posted by k. at 4:16 PM on April 1, 2010

Zero Cool. Subzero. Zero Mostel
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:33 PM on April 1, 2010

It bounces when you drop it.
posted by fifilaru at 4:35 PM on April 1, 2010

"Zero is my favorite number, mainly because it doesn't exist, kind of like my feelings for your infantile bullshit."
posted by philip-random at 4:46 PM on April 1, 2010

0 is the shape of surprise.
posted by FrotzOzmoo at 4:46 PM on April 1, 2010

My favorite zero-related riddle/joke:

What did 0 say to 8?

"Nice belt"
posted by amyms at 4:57 PM on April 1, 2010

Zero is not a number. Neither is one.

A number is a collection of units. Numbers are often very different from each other, but they are of an entirely different order and class from nothing (which we name "zero") and from unit itself (which we term "one").

You might think I'm nuts, but Euclid agrees with me.
posted by koeselitz at 5:07 PM on April 1, 2010

Zero is a donut!
posted by iamkimiam at 5:24 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gilbert Arenas.
posted by box at 5:26 PM on April 1, 2010

Check out "The Mighty Zero" by the Meat Puppets from their 1987 album Mirage.
posted by eeby at 5:27 PM on April 1, 2010

Q: What's red and invisible?
A: No tomatoes.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:18 PM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Certainly it makes sense to have no reasons.
posted by Kevin S at 6:31 PM on April 1, 2010 [7 favorites]

I suppose it could be argued that it is the only number for which every number is a factor.

I'm particularly fond of 0/0, 0^0, and any indeterminate form. It's a nice little way of calculus telling you, "That's not gonna work. Try something else."
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2010

Certainly it makes sense to have no reasons.

Dear Kevin S,
Probably the best response I ever could have imagined.
junipero
posted by junipero at 8:41 PM on April 1, 2010

it's a circle; it goes on forever.
posted by apostrophe at 8:58 PM on April 1, 2010

Although in mathematics you can't divide by zero, in most SQL implementations, NULL / 0 is defined, and equals NULL.
posted by nicwolff at 9:10 PM on April 1, 2010

There's Schoolhouse Rock's "My Hero Zero".
posted by NoraCharles at 9:16 PM on April 1, 2010

Thank you, NoraCharles.

I can't believe it took 33 answers to get to The Schoolhouse Rock.

Here is a kind of trippy but awesome version of the Lemonheads doing a cover of the tune.
posted by chicago2penn at 10:53 PM on April 1, 2010

Like black, zero is defined by lacking that which it is categorized with (color and value respectively). Lots of people's favorite color is black.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:45 PM on April 1, 2010

If two values are equal, this means the difference between them is equal to zero. This can be applied figuratively: if you support gender / racial equality, you argue that there should be zero difference in how members of different groups are treated. Put another way: if two things are alike in every respect, they are unalike in zero respects. Zero thus represents everything and nothing simultaneously.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:52 PM on April 1, 2010

By not being defined as either an even or an odd number for the purposes of roulette, 0 and 00 modify the odds such that the house has a distinct advantage over every player (that is to say, the odds of landing on any one number are 37 to 1 while the payout is 35 to 1. That tiny difference is why casinos are rich and you're not).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:00 AM on April 2, 2010

Culturally, we rarely respect people who have success seemingly without trying, but instead admire those who achieve through hard work and determination. Without initial failure or humble beginnings, the ultimate success is without cultural value. In this way, the expression "from zero to hero" represents the pinnacle of all human achievement.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:05 AM on April 2, 2010

My favorite number is 0.

Actually everyone's favourite number is 0. Proof follows...

X says "my favourite number is 8".
==> "Nothing is more appealing than 8."
==> "0 is more appealing than 8."
==> 0 is X's favourite number

QED
posted by genesta at 5:53 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

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