Home > Home, How we express ourselves, How we organize ourselves, Maths > Homework: Why do we need zero?

Homework: Why do we need zero?

After watching some videos about numbers that Paula found for us, we had an interesting conversation about the number zero.

Watch these two videos to get you thinking, and then answer the questions below as well as you can:

Questions

  1. Zero is useful in many ways, what ways do you know?
  2. What examples of zero can you find in your home? Can you take pictures or bring things in?
  3. What wouldn’t be able to do if zero didn’t exist? Explain why?
  4. Does zero exist in every language/culture?
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  1. August 18, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Zero exist in the Philippines. Yes I can bring things from home. Ways like making numbers.

  2. sebastian
    August 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    zero can be helpful in counting, math, sports and in life. yes i can but the pictures are on my phone. we wouldn’t have 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 120 110 and much more sports will be more confessing and life will be hard. yes in everything zero exits but it has a different name to it.

    • Nathan
      August 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      Yes thats right because everything that is around us has maths in it
      All electronics are operated with the number 1 and 0.
      And you are also right if we didn’t have a 0 we wouldn’t be able to count in 10,

      • Mr. Sam
        August 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

        Good point, Nathan. That is called “binary”. What else do you know about binary?

        • Rimjhim
          August 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

          A computer operates with the numbers 1 and 0. For example a computer would need a binary to calculate any command you give it. And Nathan’s right, if 0 wasn’t invented then we wouldn’t even have numbers like 10. Not only that we wouldn’t even have numbers because counting goes like this 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. That’s why a number key board has only these numbers because you can make any number you want with these. For example 69741258.0052!

    • Johan
      August 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      yeah i agrre with u seb zero can be a good thing in sports like in football because if your team is winning with 3-0 thats good because they haven’t scored a goals yet, but for the loosing team its not that good but for the winning team it is

      • 18pimboonw
        August 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm

        Does scoring goals and making good thing and bad thing have anything to do with this??

        • Mr. Sam
          August 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm

          Good question, Pimboon. I guess what the boys are trying to do (apart from bring football into EVERY conversation) is show that the scores in most sports start at zero.

          Here’s a challenge: Can any of you find a sport that uses scores but DOESN’T START AT ZERO?

          • Rimjhim
            August 19, 2010 at 8:35 pm

            Tennis!

          • Pimboon
            September 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm

            Gymnastics 🙂

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

      I agree with all that you had to say. Though I don’t understand what you meant that sports will be more confessing!

      • 18rairatc
        August 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

        I agree with all that you guys said but I agree with you Sam-i dont understand what sebi means by sports will be more confessing!

        • Mr. Sam
          August 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

          Spelling mistake girls, I think he means “confusing”. Am I right Sebi?

        • Jin
          March 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm

          You know Am and Sam

          Seb and other boys are obsessed in footy

          But I like Johan’s way too because how can you know the score without watching the game imagine a team is winning 12-9, but if you want to know what the score is, you need the scoreboard

  3. michael
    August 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    If we didnt have zero we couldnt count to ten so we can only count to nine then.

    • 18mayw
      August 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      I agree with you Michael. Zero is very important.

      • 18pimboonw
        August 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm

        I agree to both of you life would be so less wthout a zero

    • Nathan
      August 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      And then what would you do. Go to 11? 123456789….11 12 13

      • Mick
        August 18, 2010 at 5:59 pm

        You can count without zero, for example roman numerals l = 1 V = 5 X = 10 ten would be X and twenty would be XX. It worked but it was very confusing. 1 was actually invented about 17000 years before zero.

        • Samantha
          August 18, 2010 at 6:59 pm

          That’s right, you can count without zero. Though it would be hard to tell the time or see in a sport if somebody has scored.

          • Mick
            August 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

            Many clocks and watches do use roman numerals. It isn’t that hard to tell the time with roman numerals.

          • 18rairatc
            August 18, 2010 at 7:20 pm

            I agree Sam. You can’t count with zero otherwise you use roman numbers which is going to be a but hard and confusing…

          • 18pimboonw
            August 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

            I agree with you Sam, It’ll be very hard and confusing to look and reconize.

        • Rimjhim
          August 19, 2010 at 8:39 pm

          I think that 1=I 2=II 3=III 4=IV 5=V 6=VI 7=VII etc. 10=X 15=XV… I know up to 20=XX.

    • 18rairatc
      August 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      I agree Michael and May. It will be hard without zero.

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Wouldn’t we just have another symbol for ten? Maybe * would work.

      1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,*,11,12,13,14 etc…

      How about that?

      • Rimjhim
        August 19, 2010 at 8:40 pm

        Wouldn’t we still need to call it zero!

  4. ken
    August 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Yes i agree sebatian in japan and china there is a zero.There will be no decimal points and you wont be able to multiply by 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 etc.division and on the caculator if there is no zero you wont get to get the right math because you wont be able to minus the same numbers and you wont be able to make 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 etc. Ken

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      Why do we need to multiply by such big numbers though, Ken?

  5. 18manisha
    August 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Zero is important because we need it to do maths and when you want to call to your friend’s mobile then you need to start the number with 0 because if you type the number without zero then you can’t contact your friend.

    • Nathan
      August 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      Yes that’s right but then do you know why company like pizza company has the number 1112? or Mcdonald’s (which you shouldn’t eat have the number) 1711?

      • 18paulah
        August 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm

        I know you were asking Manisha, but I don’t know why Pizza company and mc donalds have those numbers I’ve always assumed that it’s because it’s easy to remember.

        • Samantha
          August 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

          Yeah, I agree!
          I also think it is made so it’s easy to remember. It’s only four digits and the numbers are pretty simple. There’s one that is 123.

        • 18rairatc
          August 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

          Yeah me too. I understand you Manisha but i suppose its like 4 digits to remember easily.

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Couldn’t the phone companies just use another number as the first number?

  6. 18mayw
    August 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I think actually zero is the best number because without zero there wouldn’t be a ten, hundred, thousand and so on. Zero is a very important number.

    • 18rairatc
      August 18, 2010 at 7:23 pm

      I agree May. Without zero life could be much harder..

    • 18pimboonw
      August 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Yeah I agree wiht you. There will be no more numbers than nine…

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      So, did zero give humans the ability to create and count large numbers?

  7. Nathan
    August 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Mr. Sam
    Just visiting the blog and I found this!!
    In maths we were learning the history of maths and we were learning about all the numbers from Egypt times how they used to use numbers. So when indian, arabic numerals came they had the number 123456 etc and later on some guy I can’t quite remember his name because it’s long and wierd decided that we only needed the numbers 1 and 0 and there was something called binery and it went like this 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 and so on. So how would I make the number 28? You would do this 0 under 1, 0 under 2, 1 under 4, 1 under 8 and 1 under 16 and that makes 28. So the number in binery would be 00111 that’s how you’d read it. Calculators work that way because calculators were invented by the same man who made the binery system but it was a bit difficult to make numbers like a million and you could only use a number once.

    Hope that wasn’t too confusing :0
    An Ex-student
    Nathan

    • Mick
      August 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Nathan,

      At school I also learned about 0 in maths. In math we had to watch a show called the story of 1. One is one of the first numbers in the world. Zero was only invented about 1500 years ago while the first evidence of one being used was 20000 years ago. There was actually a lot of agrument about zero and quite a lot of people got killed trying to invent the number zero. Right now 1 and 0 are everywhere because of the binary system. It is in computers, machines, barcodes and calculators.

      Mick

      P.S the person who invented the binary system was G.W Liebnite (I think)

      • Johan
        August 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm

        whats that last thing supposed to mean Mick??

        • Samantha
          August 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm

          I think it’s supposed to mean that the guy Nathan was talking about’s name’s G.W. Liebnite.

        • Mick
          August 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

          Nahtn said in his comment that he didn’t remember the name of the person who invented the binary system.

      • Mr. Sam
        August 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm

        I’d like to hear more about the fights and the people getting killed trying to invent the number zero!

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      It is a bit confusing because it is so complicated. Maybe you can come over and explain it to us some time. Is this something you’re doing in Maths at the moment?

      • Nathan
        August 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

        Yes

  8. Julien
    August 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    To me zero is the most important number because without a zero you wouldn’t even be able to count over ten but with a zero you could for ever.

    PS Nathan that was very confusing

    • Nathan
      August 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      I’ll try again maybe after

      • Mick
        August 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm

        For most people 0 might be the most important number but for many civilizations zero was not important. Many ancient civizilation didn’t have any number other than 1!
        For example: Roman, Egypt etc…

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm

      Actually I started to think again after I read what Mick said. He commented on what Nathan said who commented on Michael’s comment. He said that you could just use Roman numerals. We learnt it last year so you should know it, Julien. I saw some people saying that 0 was invented a long, long, long time after 1 was invented so it’s not as important as you think it is. Yes, it is important and it would be hard in life, but life was still normal a long time ago without the number zero.

      P.S. Yeah it was hard to read what Nathan said. But the stuff not about the 00111 thing was pretty easy to understand.

      Sam..

      • Mr. Sam
        August 18, 2010 at 8:07 pm

        This is a fantastic comment. Lot’s of people are saying that life would be so terrible without the number zero… but have they really thought about it???

        You have. People survived just fine without it.

  9. 18manisha
    August 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I also think that you can do adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing without a zero for example 11+5=16.

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

      but some numbers need zero like 10+6=16

      • Mr. Sam
        August 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

        Not if ten was a different symbol, like *.

        * + 6 = *6

  10. 18aayushk
    August 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Q1 We use zero for counting high numbers. For sports we need zero as the starting point. Zero is useful in separating the + and – numbers in temperature.

    Q2 I found the number zero on a digidal clock, a phone number, calender and a measuring cup.

    Q3 Me and my mom weren’t able to find any thing. But we think the number system wouldn’t be the same for example there wouldn’t be any 10 20 30etc.

    Q4 I think zero is in most modern day languages.

    Something I discovered was that zero was discovered and used first in India around 300BC.

  11. Shikhar
    August 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Zero is useful in decimals because it’s a place holder. 0.1 is not the same 0.01. I find that zero is useful in long multiplication of numbers that are two digits or bigger. 1 and zero put together, not added, make 10. You can count higher numbers with zero. Zero is non-existent, but no numbers would be existing without zero and because of this zero is there in every language. No matter what the language is … there will always be numbers and zero.

    • 18rairatc
      August 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      I agree Shikhar. Zero is a very important place holder.

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm

      Couldn’t we just use something else as a place holder? How about #?

      #.1

      or

      #.#1

  12. JonJon
    August 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Mr. Sam,
    0 is an important number because without it there would be no numbers, such as 10, 20, 30 etc. Also, all sporting events would start with a score of 0 – 0. Without zero, money wouldn’t be able to pass 9. 0 also is the only number between positive and negative. Without it there would be no positive and negative. We wouldn’t be able to count higher than 10. It would be harder to do big numbers times each other, for example 19 x 24. The language and cultures that I know which include Thai, English, American, German, Chinese, Spanish, Laos and Portuguese all have 0.
    HOWEVER, I KNOW OF 1 CULTURE THAT HAS NO 0. ROMAN NUMERALS START FROM I, II, III SO ON.

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Yeah, that is true.

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      I hadn’t thought about Roman numerals until you and a few others mentioned them. Was there really no zero?

      You have made a great point about positive and negative numbers… but what do we need positive and negative numbers for? Are they really that important?

  13. 18paulah
    August 18, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I know that zero is very useful as a place holder I know that many types of math equations wouldn’t exist if there was no zero. I know that you could only count to nine if there was no zero. Zero has been very helpful in expressing the things around us in math because in math you try to describe what’s around you in numbers and it would be in complete if there was no number zero because there will be nothing of something a lot in this world.
    I think zero exists in every culture or language maybe there is no actual word zero but for example nothing is another word for zero it just isn’t relevant to math any more because the word nothing is not a number.
    But in most languages there is a word for zero here is the word for zero in 22 different languages.
    http://www.marijn.org/everything-is-4/counting-0-to-100/all-languages

    • Mr. Sam
      August 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Excellent… we should print that chart out and try and learn to count to 100 in as many languages as we can!

  14. 18saeyeono
    August 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    With out zero there will be no 10 or 10000000000000000000000etc
    and could even needed zero to up grade
    thecnologe. and even score start with 0 then with out
    0 could be start with 1 or 2 or 3.

    When i start the computer then if its somthing wroung
    it dose like these 10002344350-3434333545-
    434-34343434 negetive 01230- countinew 12345 00000.

    The ship must have 0 note to stop from going fowards.

    • michael
      August 18, 2010 at 6:46 pm

      sae yeon you also made a spelling mistake somthing is something wroung is wrong and i think note is knots

      • Samantha
        August 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm

        I don’t really understand what Sae Yeon said. Do you think you can fix your spelling and make what you said simpler?

        • Jin
          March 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

          He is saying something

          I guess he means that the engine needs the 0 to stop the oil from going in the sea to stop the engine

  15. sebastian
    August 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    i agree with johan to because their will be do really good sports because you will have to start with 1-1 or 2-2

    • Johan
      August 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      true

  16. sebastian
    August 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    i agree with you julian because with out zero their will not be lots of big numbers

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Actually, I think they could. Do you know Roman Numerals?
      1=I 2=II 3=III 4=IV 5=V 6=VI 7=VII 8=VIII 9=1X 10=X etc.

      • 18pimboonw
        August 18, 2010 at 7:38 pm

        Yeah, I do, Roman Numerals only have I V C etc.

    • 18rairatc
      August 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      I agree sebi. We would be able to count only to nine.

  17. sebastian
    August 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    say yeon you made a grammar mistake you said/ and could even needed zero to up grade when it is you couldn’t even up grade technology

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      I think you should of replyed to Sae Yeons instead of making a new comment! 😀

  18. 18gabis
    August 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    i think that number one was right if there was no zero we cant really do things and even though it might not be that real we still need zero i dont get why zero jumed off the building at the end.

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      Haha, I agree with you. The number one was right 🙂
      Zero is really important just like what the number one said!
      I think I know why the zero jumped off the building. Maybe it was because he was sad that the one disapeared..

  19. michael
    August 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    we also need 0 for temprature

  20. Johan
    August 18, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Zero is an important number because without zero there would only be 9 numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 but with zero you can go 10,11,12,13……1062……., and more. So zero is a very useful number. Also if zero didn’t exist nearly all the sports would be amazingly boring if you could only play up to 10 and then the game would finish.

    • 18rairatc
      August 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      I agree-with zero you can count to bigger numbers and the sports would be very boring.

  21. Samantha
    August 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I really enjoyed the videos. It was hilarious and it teaches you at the same time. I know zero is important because with out zero we could only count up to nine. Telling the time would be a disaster. Like the number One in the first video said, “Without the number Zero, there would be no decimal point.” Especially in sports, you need numbers or else you can’t keep track of the score. Maybe they could just use one but it would be confusing. I’m not sure if zero is in every language. I tried searching it but I was very confusing. I did find the number zero in some languages. Some of the languages need symbols so I just wrote what it sounds like. Correct me if I’m wrong:
    English- zero
    Spanish- cero
    French- zéro
    German- null
    Swedish- noll
    Mandarin- ling
    Hindi- shoona
    Tagalog- isa
    Japanese- zero

    Samantha.

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      Sorry, I made a mistake. I put the number 1 in tagalog! 😦

    • Jin
      March 13, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      I will tell you in Korean

      영 (0) pronounce it young

  22. sebastian
    August 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    sebastian :
    Zero can be helpful in counting, math, sports and in life. Yes I can but the pictures are on my phone. We wouldn’t have 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 120 110 and much more.
    Sports will be more confusing and life will be hard. Yes zero exists in every language but it has a different name to it.

  23. 18anirudhv
    August 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Zero is a very important number. It was invented by a Hindu mathematician Aryabhatta. The invention of ‘nothing’ was the most important invention.
    With the nine numerals and zero we can write any number. Thats why it is very important.
    Some civilizations like the Romans and Egyptians did not have the number zero.
    There are many things in my house that remind me of zero- The globe, My ball, The hole in acoustic guitar and a top of a glass.
    We would not be able to count to big numbers without the magic zero.

  24. 18pimboonw
    August 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Zero is useful when you have decimal numbers so you can have different amount of the numbers. When you have zero you can add it at the end of any number to make a different amount–1-0 = 10 1-0-0 = 100. We cant do decimals if we didnt have zeros. The other numbers will only have an amount up to 9 if zeros didnt exist. No big numbers will be allowed… Zeros exists in every language but might be a different word. every culture/language has to have a zero, no matter what. Different languages has to have zeros because its like how English has zeros… etc.

  25. 18pint
    August 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I agree with you Pimboon. I think that we need zero’s to count and if we didn’t have zero we wouldn’t have 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 etc. also if we didn’t have zero then we could only count to 9.

  26. Paul
    August 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    zero is useful in + – division and X for with out it you could never really go past 9 and in decimals e.g. 0.49 we would be able to do 0 of that is it was not for 0. no zero does not exist in every language because we know for sure that the colony in the clip that we watched today did not have have zero.

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

      Yeah that’s true. But what I mentioned to a lot of people is just that you can use Roman Numerals.

  27. 18rairatc
    August 18, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I think that zero is a really important number because you can’t count to 10-you can only go to nine. But you can use roman numbers but it would be hard and kind of confusing. Like Pimboon said without the zero decimals won’t work. Many things won’t work. As many people said sports won’t really work because you have to start with a zero. Zero is a very important number-more important than I thought…

    • 18pint
      August 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      I agree with you Am. i agree that you said that without the zero’s the decimals and many things won’t work

    • Samantha
      August 18, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      Yeah, I agree with you.
      Roman Numerals could work but life would just be confusing!

  28. jin
    August 18, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    i agree with Sebastian

    There wouldn’t be numbers like 10 20 … if there was no zero.

    Zero is also useful in games. If you are playing games that is destroying things, and if there is no zero, You wouldn’t complete the level.

  29. 18terried
    August 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Zero is an important number We can’t express huge number if without zero,we have to start from 1 if without 0 .

  30. Ranvir
    August 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I am learning the forms of these in Ms. Lalitha’s class right now.

  31. 18ninej
    August 20, 2010 at 7:16 am

    I think human need number 0 to know the time and they need to use it to make huge numbers zero also can help in sport and maths or anything, zero also make our life easier.

  32. jin
    August 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Zero (or number) is the most important number in human society because if we do not have a zero, we won’t be able to destroy the monsters in the game to get to the next level.

  33. pepijn
    September 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    1.With the zero you can have a decimal point and you can make a number that doesn’t only have 1,2,3,4…. etc. You can have just one million without 11111 but just 1.000.000 etc.
    2. Examples: on the oven you have a zero for 100 degrees, a 100 on the tv channels, you have zero on timers and on the clock. You have a zero on the gas which means it is off. If your cup is empty it is 0% full. If your battery of your computer or i-pod is 0% it will stop working.
    3. We wouldn’t be able to have for example 100, jou would need 111 as the closest number. You wouldn’t be able to make a number with a decimal point.
    4. I don’t think zero exists in every culture and language, like the Romans didn’t have a zero I think not every language/culture might have a zero.

  34. Nathan
    September 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    # Zero is useful in many ways, what ways do you know?
    Zero is a place holder and it has created the decimal piont.

    # What examples of zero can you find in your home? Can you take pictures or bring things in?
    I have books with the number I have models of toys like the NX 6000 long shot.

    # What wouldn’t be able to do if zero didn’t exist? Explain why?
    We wouldn’t have the decimal pionts and would have to write long numbers.

    # Does zero exist in every language/culture?
    I think now zero is in every langue.

  35. Matt
    September 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Zero is useful because it can make bigger values by going on the back.
    My family,picture clock and dining table.
    Like Nathan said no zero no decimal point.
    I think now it in every culture and every language now

  36. Leng
    September 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I think we really need Zero because if we don’t have Zero we really can’t going to make 10, 20…. And if we don’t have Zero people will not have $100,000,000 than.

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