Wondering why Yitang Zhang's work on prime numbers is such a big deal? Because 70,000,000 is closer to 2 than you might think...
Earlier this month, we brought you the news that University of New Hampshire mathematician Yitang Zhang proved a weak version of the twin prime conjecture, showing that there is an endless supply of prime pairs which are separated by no more than 70,000,000. That seems like it's a long way from proving the proper twin prime conjecture -- showing an infinite number of primes separated by just two digits -- but it might not be. In their latest video, the math whizzes at Numberphile offer a great layman's explanation of what the twin prime conjecture is and what Zhang's work means for it.Read More
The twin prime conjecture states that there are an infinite number of twin primes -- prime numbers where one prime is two greater than the other. For example, 1 and 3 are twin primes, so are 101 and 103, 881 and 883, and so on. This conjecture has never been proven, but Yitang Zhang believes he has proven there are infinite primes paired with other primes no greater than 70 million more than themselves. Here's why that's kind of a big deal.Read More
Quick! What's the largest prime number you can think of? Is it millions of digits long? If it isn't then you're nowhere near the new largest-known prime number. Euclid proved centuries ago that there is an infinite number of primes, but no one's ever found a formula to find them, so the process of seeking them out in numbers so large is a tedious one. So tedious that it's taken four years to beat the previous largest-known prime.Read More