Deceptively Hard to Comprehend

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"Deceptively Hard to Comprehend"
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The idea that the shape of a doughnut stands for the concept of nothing is slightly humorous on the one hand and logically problematic on the other.

Where do we begin to describe the idea of "zero?"

We can start with everything that we think we know about "zero."

Zero is nothing.

Zero means nothing.

Zero changes nothing.

Zero is and means something in the mind, while being and meaning nothing in reality.

Scientifically-speaking, zero is the placebo of math.

Zero is the place-marker on the maître d's call-in waiting list, that the VIP may be promptly seated upon arrival. 

Now, to explain zero we could begin by exploring its conceptualized functions.

1.  A number plus zero remains that same number.  (Addition.)

2.  Zero taken away from a number leaves that same number.  (Subtraction.)

3.  A number multiplied by zero becomes zero.  (Multiplication.)

4.  The alleged-impossibility of dividing a number by zero is debatable.  Arguably, any number divided by zero becomes zero.  (Division.)

We could consider the apparent similarity between zero and a musical concept. 

Zero deviation from the tuning fork tone is the piano-tuner's undying goal, which renders the perfectly-pitched note.

Zero is theoretically a number.  

This number is seen on paper as a circle, which is often written as a ellipse.  

The continuous loop gives the appearance of infinity.

How does one work with something that does not exist in reality, but which must be imagined as a virtual machine, for the purpose of expressing the function, (or in this case..."the of lack of function",) of a non-numeric numeral?

Actually, the function of zero is on-par with the function of an honorary doctor's degree.  

The fact that nothing apparently has been done to precipitate the bequeathed title of doctor in nowise detracts from the body of evidence that the honorary doctor has served his area of expertise to the degree that peer-evaluation now proclaims to the world that the one so honored surpasses the stated requirements for an earned doctor's degree in said discipline.

In the simple math functions of addition and subtraction, zero can be easily dramatized, using other disciplines.

Zero is to math what verbs of being are to language.  Each highlights the qualities of others, without adding to or detracting from those qualities.

Zero is like the moon in that it reflects the light of another.  Sunlight + moon = Sunlight 

In the more complex math functions of multiplication and division, zero becomes irrevocably self-centered.  Arguably, any number multiplied or divided by zero is rendered zero.

Does this have any social ramifications for our lives that may help us to "save face" as we endeavor to be well-rounded human beings, who mathematically astute?


Subtracting verbiage, while adding encouragement, renders the zero-sum effect of multiplying honor for ourselves, while dividing the distresses of our immediate surroundings.

In other words, honoring others as better than ourselves may on the surface appear to make us nobodies, when in fact it demonstrates that we are indeed somebodies of great substance.

Zero is a real number with an important job as well as very important functions. 

More about this author: Jay O'Toole

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