Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Penguin Books (2000)
If you've always hated math, this book probably won't change your mind. For people like me, who enjoy numbers, science, questions and history, it is a fascinating read.
Seife describes the roll of zero in mathematical history. Early number systems did not include zero because people did not need zero to count sheep or barter grain. Later, zero was banned for religious reasons because accepting zero, meant acknowledging infinity, and numeric infinity threatened Medieval concepts of God. Seife gently leads the reader through calculus, relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory. He finishes by explaining why the universe will end in ice not fire.