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Singapore Math

Friday, November 19, 2010

52 Ways to Become a Zero Hero

Not too long ago, even the Catholic Church banned the use of zero, blaming it as some Godless number. Today, in some religious or philosophical quarters, zero is still associated with some abyss, hell, or nothingness. And in mathematical circles, it took a while for mathematicians and scientists to treat zero just like the other nine numerals – indeed, zero was the last one to gain its rightful citizenship in the number system.

Despite zero’s early struggle to be recognized before it was eventually immortalized, how could we, mathophiles and mathophobes, play our part in promoting the idea that zero is not nothing, but something?

Here are some yearlong activities you may promote and pursue to elevate Zero to a Hero. Who knows? You may turn out to be a zero celebrity!

52. Buy a lottery with the four digits 0000, thus increasing your chances of probably being the sole winner.

51. Solve some math problems with zero clothes (in the privacy of your home), and get to share your aha! moments with your mature students.

50. Be part of a “Zero Tolerance Week” – no complaining or swearing for 24/7.

49. Solve the zeros (or roots) of some quartics (polynomials of degree 4) at a fast-food outlet, or while you are lining up in a supermarket.

48. Write some graffiti about zero, which would likely be a talking-point among geeky pedestrians during lunchtime or at pubs.

47. Call a dozen people with a phone number containing five or more zeros, and unearth any possible correlation between choice of digits and superstition.

46. Work out how many seconds you have left to live in standard form, and make every second count, before your last heartbeat.

A DIY Shirt
45. Wear a T-shirt with the words, “Zero is my hero!” and jot down the facial expressions of onlookers.

44. Tweet or blog about a stereotype on zero: “The rich are dispensers of zeros!”

43. Depict the imagery of some imaginary zero god, drawing people to “zero worship” instead of “hero worship.”

42. Write a novelette entitled, “The Naked Zero” or “A Tale of Zeros.”

41. E-mail a proverb or aphorism about zero to 100 friends, such as “Nothing ventured nothing gained,” and summarize their common responses in a pie.

40. Review 10 books on or about zero, and compile them into an e-book, entitled The Savage Truth About Zero, to be downloaded free of charge.

39. Write an anti-virus program that afflicts PC users with dates ending with a zero.

38. Count down to everything, NASA-style – from praying to playing to paying.

37. Call anyone you meet in the street a zero – a Zero Ridicule Day.

36. Create an optical illusion or random-dot stereogram about the number zero.

35. Imagine a world sans zero and write about its potential benefits.

34. Be a zero-schizophrenic, by zeroing on anything with nil, nought, and naught.

33. Be an advocate of the Zero Defect Movement – zero accidents, zero casualties, and so on.

32. Sponsor obituaries of strangers with zero heartbeats, who left zero savings for the family.

31. Give or ghostwrite eulogies of people with zero heartbeats, who used to issue or give away checks with no fewer than five zeros.

30. Send a month of problems to the Mathematics Teacher with all answers zero.

29. Give away a million seconds of your time to charity every year (about 34 days of 8 hours) at zero costs.

28. Google “zero,” and compile a list of most-visited sites, which reveal some odd behaviors of the numerical troublemaker.

27. Borrow some books on “Nothing” or “Nothingness” and annotate them to lure readers to borrow one of them.

26. Write a features article on a football match that ended in a 0-0 bore-draw.

25. Imagine what would happen if there were a zero year: 1 BC, 0, 1 AD.

24. Meditate on nothingness, then compose some Zen-like inspiration messages.

23. Publish a book with all blank pages – a revised edition of The Nothing Book for the third decade of the new millennium, or create a cottage industry with zero-texts titles such as “What Men Know About Women,” What Men Know about Aliens,” and the like. 

22. Popularize a series of Christmas lectures, christened Zero-Lite, to an often-innumerate or mathophobic public.

21. Compose jaws-dropping limericks and haikus about the number zero.

20. Write and mail checks of zero dollars to 100 friends, then expect the unexpected from them.

Shot taken from a train's ad
19 Organize a Zero Festival to humanize the beauty and power of zero. 

18. Run a campaign to educate the public about corporations and retails outlets, which are out to lure the public into falling into the "zero syndrome” trap: zero interests, zero down payment, zero fats, ....

17. Plan a Math Carnival with Zero as the theme for the month.

16. Explain to an eight-year-old why a point has zero dimensions.

15. Persuade decision makers in your faculty to add a few zeros to the budget for “zero” research, such as on the Zero Option, to commemorate or recognize the contribution of zero to humankind.

14. Recount the aftermath (pain, casualties, atrocities) of the Cambodian people when Kherme Rouge changed the calendar back to Year Zero, as part of a Multicultural Math elective in a college quantitative literacy course.

13. Preach on the costly or deadly consequences of disobeying the eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not divide by zero!

12. Come up with ten creative ways to help a mathematically challenged public for often mistakenly taking the letter “O” for the numeral “0.”

11. Set up a Facebook page for fans of the “Zero Fiends.”

10. Advocate a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and debts among disadvantaged kids and hardcore gamblers in poor neighborhoods.

9. Conduct public talks to the young that they and their offspring wouldn’t be paranoid of millennium years: 2000, 3000, ….

8. Promote the idea of zero pets at food courts and shopping malls as a sign of good hygiene.

7. Be a Carbon Hero, by embracing a “carbon zero” lifestyle, by using public transport and ordering e-books.

6. List down no fewer than ten sociological or psychoanalytical uses of zero.

5. Set a 2020 goal of achieving near-zero innumeracy as an educational goal among elementary school students.

4. Start a Zero Digest zeroing on the mathematical, philosophical, and spiritual zero, and place advertisements as a way to reduce the price to $0.00.

3. Come up with a number of rebuses related to the number zero or expressions about zero.

2. Campaign for a zero-situational-ethics working environment.

1. Follow K C Yan on Twitter as @Zero_Math and share your “zero” tweets with the zero-math brethren.

© Yan Kow Cheong, November 17, 2010

12 comments:

kkraghuthaman said...

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 is prferred by all
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,& 9 are one less (each)
Ancient Indians sensed benefits of "one less count", which is Vedic mathematics ( a book that has been written by Shri Jagadguru Sankaracharya 1884-1960 and published in 1965).

Yan Kow Cheong said...

Hi Kkraghuthaman

Thanks for your input. And your comment reminds us of the Hindu contribution of zero to humankind.

Thanks to Hindu mathematicians, zero was elevated from a mere place-holder to a bona fide number.

K C Yan

Anonymous said...

I was sent an interesting article with tables that I posted on my blog showing the difference in number of math topics covered per year in the US vs. A+ countries (including Singapore). With the number of topics we throw at our kids per year in the US, it’s amazing that any of it ever sinks in! http://zerosumruler.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/us-vs-a-countries-breadth-vs-depth-in-math-which-is-better/

Anonymous said...

Um I guess you can just click on my name "zerosumruler" to get to the charts, too! Sorry about the ugly code!

kkraghuthaman said...

Numbers are basically digital(equal step by step increases) be it a whole number increases (by one) up to either 9, or 99, or 999 or a n9s number). Further, decimal number increases by 0.1, 0r 0.01, or 0.001 or any other decimal number like this until said increases end as either 0.9, or 0.99, or 0.999, or 0. n9s.
Both counts are absolutely similar and both together realizes decimal system! No need to relate number less than zero in ancient indian computing Vedic mathematics!

kkraghuthaman said...

A square matrix with equal row position numbers 0 through 9 and column position numbers 0...9 is 'basic medium' to learn Vedic mathematics. 0...9 means 'one less count'. Related zero-start 2D square matrix virtues have been compiled as Vedic sutras by Shri Jagadguru Sankaracharya(1884-1960). Sense of Vedic sutras can be learned (visually) by looking at Vedic matrix, which you may Google search!
Vedic matrix 0...9, 00...99, 000...999 or n0s...n9s exhibits unique computing properties!

Yan Kow Cheong said...

Hi Kkraghuthaman

Thanks for sharing with us some factoids about Vedic Maths.

Mathematically yours

K C Yan

kkraghuthaman said...

Well before modern mathematicians developed treignometry(three sided triangles related computing)ancient Indians used a too simple mathematics relating two-sided (squares)!
Only horizontal lines of matrix are shown below. Related equal length vertical lines exist. Both together form ancient Indian "zero-start 2D square matrix" which is a 'medium' to see and learn mathematics and related computing rules.Zero start position is a definite need here!
0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
0
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
1
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
2
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
3
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
4
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
5
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
6
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
7
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
8
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
9

kkraghuthaman said...

A merged row and column number applies to each position of matrix. row-column number is must to ensure a natural number writing order from left to right. 99 means there are 9 tens (row number) and 9 ones (column number) before a 'position 99'. With due considerations to 'learning aspects' ancient Indians have chosen a number system comprising ten number digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. If we look back, people have never accepted 'one less than' count that uses zero at 'first position'(a position having 'no one' before it)!
Fact is that we are yet to grasp virtues of ancient indian count (from zero onwards). Instead of trying it, we are abusing 'zero' and agree that 'zero' is a place holder number!

…0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9
0---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
1---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
2---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
3---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
4---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
5---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
6---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
7---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
8---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
9---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- x99

kkraghuthaman said...

Merged row and column numbers fix each one of matrix positions.
1) left top corner position is 00
2) Row zero positions are 00 through 09
3) Row one positions are 10...19
4) And so on in a page read order come to 90...99
5) 00...99 we have hundread 2-digit positions.
6) 1/99^2 digits merge all these matrix positions less second last position 98!
7) 1/99^2= 0.00 01 02 03... 95 96 97 99 recuring
8) Importance of left zeros (in 00, 01, 02 etc) may be understood from this!
9) How to use 'recurring number groups' is a major share of Vedic mathematics

…0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9
00--- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
1---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
2---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
3---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
4---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
5---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
6---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
7---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
8---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
9---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- x99

kkraghuthaman said...

Conclusion

Propagators of 'Vedic mathematics' claim 'it is something out of the world'!
I see in it a perfectly scientific Vedic matrix position relating (to mental compute). Grasp matrix position relations and then apply numbers by matrix position memory! One who see matrix(in mind) becomes a greater 'mathematician'.
One who disregard 'zero and virtues of zero' will compute lifelong! Modern mathematics promotes this culture.
Vedic mathematicians worked towards eliminating computing by logically observing answers and matrix positions. Modern computer too helps us to do it far easily!

kkraghuthaman said...

You may Google search 'vedic matrix' or my community 'NUMBER ZERO' via ORKUT profile of kk raghuthaman for more details/public learning.

See 'Promote' at NUMBER ZERO community for my understanding of 'zero' and ancient Indian mathematics!

Ask questions anywhere I publish my viewpoints on zero.

When a 'number sense' is related to 'zero' said 'number sense' becomes 'instant awareness', else 'computing' is needed to grasp it!

Grasp zero and minimise computing!

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