Nothing Made Modern Science Possible

“Our word cipher, meaning zero or nothing, comes from the Arabic word Sifr, meaning zero. We call our numbers Arabic numerals, but they actually came from India. It was the Arabs, however, who brought the Indian numerals to Europe.

It took centuries to convince Europeans to use them, even  though they made calculations easier than using clumsy Roman numerals. Medieval Arab scholars also took the Indian idea of representing zero (the Arabs use a dot, ٠). This enables us to write all numbers with only ten symbols (0 to 9). Without the use of the zero, modern science would be impossible!”

~ Barbara Whitesides, from Sugar Comes from Arabic: A Beginner's Guide to Arabic Letters and Words

See also:

Zero and One  

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Seife, C., & Zimet, M. (2014). Zero: The biography of a dangerous idea. New York: Penguin Books. (library)