In this episode of Maths Matters Julie and Phil talk about nothing! Well, actually they tell us about the number zero.
Julie gives us some more insight here...
The nothing, or the number zero, has gone from literally being nothing ie not existing, to being the cornerstone of modern mathematics - in the space of only a few hundred years.
The number zero has two basic roles in maths. The first is as a placeholder in our number system, allowing for different magnitudes of value.
So, by putting a zero after a 5, what do we get 50 and we know that 50 is bigger than 5. And by adding another zero to 50, we get 500, which we know is bigger than 50.
The second use of the zero is as a number in its own right. You can add it, subtract it, multiply by it, BUT the only difference compared to all other numbers is…you can't divide by zero.
Maths teachers will likely explain that it's just not possible. That you cannot divide something by nothing. But this didn’t satisfy us. So in this episode we go into why you can’t divide by zero.