Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

William S. Lawson (
9 May 1995 15:30:13 GMT

In article <Admin.0x0v@oubliette.COM>, Panopticon@oubliette.COM (Eric Shook) writes:
|> In article <3oi1v7$> carl@SOL1.GPS.CALTECH.EDU (Carl J Lydick) writes:
|> > =Gee, you've really zeroed in on the point I was making!
|> > =
|> > =Zero as a symbol is the concept necessary for the abtract representation of
|> > ="nothing." Therefore, while "nothing" may have been conceived of well before
|> > =zero was instituted as a symbol for it, the point I made was that zero must be
|> > =an "intellectual concept." It is, after all, an abstraction.
|> >
|> > Perhaps you'd explain to us how the word "nothing" fails to qualify as a symbol
|> > for the representation of "nothing." If you can't do that, then perhaps you'll
|> > havre the intellectual integrity to admit you don't know what you're talking
|> > about, though I seriously doubt it.
|> I have no need to explain how nothing fails to qualify as a symbol of
|> nothing. The point was only that zero, as a symbol, MUST be an intellectual
|> concept. The original post insinuated that it was not. Now, at this point,
|> not only have you taken this to a ridiculous height, whereby you insist
|> that I am saying things that I never even came close to uttering a word
|> about, I suggest you cease your postings upon this point.

Sigh. On the principle that this question is of some interest, I will leap
into this snake pit, and try not to behave like a spoiled teenager.

The symbol zero was introduced to the european culture as a notational advance
of tremendous import. This is why we use hindu-arabic numerals today. The
advance, however, has to do with placeholding, not "nothing". The concept of
zero (as opposed to the symbol) certainly dates back to the advent of
accounting, and was probably not entirely foreign to neanderthal. I think what
some took exception to was the notion (the origins now lost) that the concept
originated at the same time as the symbol. (There have probably been many
other symbols used to represent zero, but not in the context of place-holding
in decimal notation.) At the risk of playing a linguistic game myself, any
symbol is merely a mark on a piece of paper (or papyrus, or...) that represents
a concept. It is not the concept itself.

The statement, "No cat is a dog", translates into set notation, not an
equation, and so has nothing to do with the concept of zero.

The choice of zero to illustrate your point was unfortunate. One, two and
three are all pure abstractions, but zero is truly different.

|> PS: Is this guy a typical sci.astro poster? Everyone else seemed to
|> understand the relatively simple point that I was making. What did I just
|> get lucky and attract the sci.astro newgroup kook?

He is not a kook, nor is he patient. He also has an unfortunate vocabulary.
He is not the worst offender.
-- Bill Lawson