It took humans millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of study to turn nothing into something. Ancient civilizations had various number systems, but it wasn’t until the seventh century AD that absence gained a presence in the Indian-origin numerical scheme we use today, becoming the mathematical concept “zero,” initially represented by a dot.

Bees, it seems, are able to grasp this abstraction, too. And increasingly it appears that other creatures get the difficult notion of nothingness as well.

Ephrat Livni

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