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NEWS: Earliest Known Use of Zero?

“Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and our whole digital world is based on nothing or something. But there was a moment when there wasn’t this number.”

-Marcus du Sautoy

So when was the number zero conceptualised?

Recently, scientists have traced the origins of zero to an ancient Indian text, called the Bakhshali manuscript, which has been housed in the UK since 1902. Radiocarbon dating has revealed that this script originated in the third or fourth century. This is about 500 years earlier than scholars previously believed.

The Bakhshali manuscript, which was first found by a farmer in 1881 in what is now Pakistan, is inscribed on 70 pieces of birch bark and contains hundreds of zeroes.


Front Page of Folio 16 dating back to 224-383 AD | Source: Guardian

Several ancient cultures independently came up with symbols for the concept of ‘nothing’, however the dot symbol in the Bakhshali script is the one that evolved into the hollow-centred version of the symbol that we use today.

“It also sowed the seed for zero as a number, which is first described in a text called Brahmasphutasiddhanta, written by the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta in 628AD.”


For more, click here.

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