10/16/2017 11:00:34 AM
|written By : Team India Se|
The origin of zero may be much older than it was originally thought to be, according to researchers at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
In 1881, a farmer in present-day Pakistan was working on his field when he unearthed an ancient Indian text dating back to the third or fourth century. This humble document written on birch bark would later reveal clues to the origin of one of humankind’s biggest mathematical achievements – the origin of zero.
The Bakshali manuscript, as this 70-page text is known, was later acquired and housed in the University of Oxford since 1902. The manuscript features a series of Sanskrit numerals, with zero being represented by a small dot.
Recently, researchers at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library conducted carbon dating on the manuscript, and found that some pages of the manuscript were older than they were originally thought to be. This means that the origin of zero also dates back much farther than originally thought.
“This zero in India is the seed from which the concept of zero as a number in its own right represented by the same dot or circle will emerge some centuries later, something many regard as one of the of the great moments in the history of mathematics,” said lead researcher Marcus du Sautoy.
According to mathematicians and historians like du Sautoy, the manuscript holds some of the most important clues to understanding the origin of zero, a concept which would pave the way for the development of fields like calculus and physics centuries later.