About zero, that is. It’s my nomination for number of the year.
Full access to “A Column about Nothing” is restricted to subscribers for three months; here’s an excerpt:
Zero is a synonym for “nothing,” of course, but its value in branding – and in English idioms – is often positive. The name of the Sub-Zero Freezer Company, founded in 1945, suggests extra-low temperatures. (There are also an unrelated Sub Zero ice cream company, based in Provo, Utah; and a Sub Zero liquid for e-cigarettes.) A restaurant called Zero Zero, which opened in San Francisco in 2010, takes its name from the finest grain of flour, known as “00.” Coke Zero, introduced in 2005, contains zero sugar or calories, a boon for dieters and diabetics. And Zeroth, a platform for “brain-inspired learning” from telecommunications company Qualcomm, appropriates the ordinal form of zero to create what one reviewer called a “vaguely sinister” brand name that may reference the zeroth law of thermodynamics (“if two thermodynamic systems are each in thermal equilibrium with a third, then they are in thermal equilibrium with each other”).
Read the rest of the column to learn about zero tolerance, Generation Zero, and the strange magic of size 0, 00, and 000.
Read past columns now liberated from their paywall:
- A few things about “thing”
- Unpacking “hack”
- Talking sense about “common sense”
- How “journey” became a well-traveled metaphor