The Story of 1:The story of the number 1 is the story of Western civilisaton. Terry Jones goes on a humour filled journey to discover just what an amazing tale lies behind the simplest number we have. Using computer graphics, I is brought to life for the programme, in all his various guises. Is story reveals how the most celebrated civilistaions in history were achieved, where our modern numbers came from the how the invention of zero changed the world forever and saved us from having to use Roman numerals today.
How old is I? A precise answer is impossible but a notched bone found in the Congo proved that hes been around for at least 20,000 years. His life really took off 6000 years ago when the Sumerians turned him into a cone shaped token and then into the first ever writing inventions that made arithmetic and therefore city life possible.
1000 years later in Egypt. Terry watches the use of the first ever million, as well as the invention of formal measurement as Egypt creates their own definition of 1, the Cubit. (And we glimpse how awful the pyramids would have looked without it.)
Then its on to Ancient Greece, where the number 1 is held in huge regard. However, his biggest fan, Pythagoras, loses his mind studying
1.Pythagoras followed by Archimedes who loses his life: is killed by the invading Roman Army. The Romans had no time for theoretical mathematics and so in his new form I became a tool for imposing order.
Unwieldy Roman numerals would dominate Europe for the next 2000 years Terry discovers how the numbers we used today eventually managed to replace them. Its a story that starts in India where the symbols for 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 were invented and where Terry tracks down the first ever zero.From there its on to Baghdad where the Muslim world celebrated the Indian system before finally it was brought into Europe and met fierce resistance.
It takes 500 years for the battle between Roman and Indian numbers to play out but by the 16th century Indian numbers have finally won. But the story doesnt end there. Within a hundred years, German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz has invented binary, a system that used only I and zero. Since then, as the language of computers, these two digits have dominated every part of our modern lives.