The origin of the symbol zero has long been one of the world’s greatest mathematical mysteries. New carbon dating research commissioned by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries into the ancient Indian Bakhshali manuscript, held at the Bodleian, has revealed it to be hundreds of years older than initially thought, making it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today.
Shri Rabindranath Mitra was English teacher in our school — Raisina Bengali High School in New Delhi. He was a recipient of the President of India award for best teacher. Yesterday was his birth centenary.
There are many stories of messages in bottles travelling thousands of miles before being picked up and read, and letters arriving decades after they were posted. But here is a different twist. Instead of a postal address or a recipient’s name, the sender had drawn a map of where they believed the addressee to be. And, extraordinarily, it arrived at the right place. Amazing, anything is possible in the world!
The 1,000 Carolus guilder-bond, which is written on goatskin, is among five of the world’s oldest bonds that still pay interest. The document is a bearer bond, meaning the issuer needs to see it before paying out interest. The issuer will then write the payment date on the document. Interest payments were continuously recorded on the vellum document.
Throughout the history, couples have expressed their undying love in handwritten letters. Few people take the trouble to write by hand today, but if anything is preserved at the back of a desk drawer, it is likely to be the handwritten love letter that once upon a time sent someone’s heart shuddering. Letters reveal raw emotions such as joyous or unrequited love; a letter bares the soul to just one other person.