Sunday, April 29, 2007


Modern calculating power keeps finding larger and larger primes, the most enormous stretching to nearly 10 million digits and spelled shorthand in the form of 2 to the 32,582,657th power -1, according to the Web site 1859, the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann uncovered a possible pattern in the distribution of primes. He didn't solve the mystery but pointed later generations of mathematicians in a most promising direction. In the 1940s, Nobel Prize- winning physicist Eugene Wigner noticed that the spectral lines of heavy atoms were governed by an unusual probability distribution. Then, in 1996, Peter Sarnak and Zeev Rudnick found that a related distribution applied to primes, suggesting a deeper underlying similarity to physics.Hilbert posed 23 problems for mathematicians to work on in the 20th century, of which the mystery of primes is the major one to remain untoppled

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