Starting from Zero

Is it possible to get something from nothing? Mathematicians, theologians and philosophers have posed that question for millennia. While theoretically it seems doubtful, we still often use the phrase “starting from zero”.

Starting from scratch, having a clean slate, begin at the beginning – it’s the story of our lives. We start off knowing nothing, learn by example and then trial and error, testing and adjusting. This is also the scientific method - used in all sciences including chemistry, physics, geology, and psychology. 

Mathematically, zero is not a perfect number but in many ways “zero” has infinite potential. PERCH artist Peter Hassen has tapped into this potential for his featured series “Naught 2”. Forever fascinated by the systems of philosophy, religion, biology, cartography and language, Hassen explores iconography through these multilayered panels backed by a blue and cloudy sky.

Zero is at the center, radiating golden beams and illuminating theorems and formulas that hold our intellectual evolution. On top lie the various equations that flowed from the discovery of zero; such as advanced geometry, Einstein’s General Theorem, and all of the specialties of science that cascaded from that beginning.

The intricacy of these works shows us just how beautiful and rich “nothing” can be. As author K.C. Cole writes in The Hole in the Universe, “Understanding nothing matters, because nothing is the all-important background upon which everything else happens.”

See Peter Hassen’s Naught series HERE, and view more works by the artist at

Also, you might enjoy this quick video from The Royal Institution on What is Zero? Getting Something from Nothing - with Hannah Fry