The Largest Prime Number

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  1. The Number Four

    Episode one of Another Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    Simon Singh's journey begins with the number 4, which for over a century has fuelled one of the most elusive problems in mathematics: is it true that any map can be coloured with just 4 colours so that no two neighbouring countries have the same colour? This question has tested some of the most imaginative minds — including Lewis Carroll's — and the eventual solution has aided the design of some of the world's most complex air and road networks.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. 1 — The Most Popular Number

    Episode one of A Further Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    Literally, the most popular number, as it appears more often than any other number. More specifically, the first digit of all numbers is a 1 about 30% of the time, whereas it is 9 just 4% of time. This was accidentally discovered by the engineer Frank Benford. It works for all numbers – mountain heights, river lengths, populations, etc.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. 1 — The Most Popular Number

    Episode one of A Further Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    Literally, the most popular number, as it appears more often than any other number. More specifically, the first digit of all numbers is a 1 about 30% of the time, whereas it is 9 just 4% of time. This was accidentally discovered by the engineer Frank Benford. It works for all numbers – mountain heights, river lengths, populations, etc.

    —Huffduffed by Torvald

  4. The Imaginary Number

    Episode four of Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    The imaginary number takes mathematics to another dimension. It was discovered in sixteenth century Italy at a time when being a mathematician was akin to being a modern day rock star, when there was 'nuff respect' to be had from solving a particularly 'wicked' equation. And the wicked equation of the day went like this: "If the square root of 1 is both 1 and -1, then what is the square root of -1?"

    —Huffduffed by srushe

  5. The Imaginary Number

    Episode four of Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    The imaginary number takes mathematics to another dimension. It was discovered in sixteenth century Italy at a time when being a mathematician was akin to being a modern day rock star, when there was 'nuff respect' to be had from solving a particularly 'wicked' equation. And the wicked equation of the day went like this: "If the square root of +1 is both +1 and -1, then what is the square root of -1?"

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. Game Theory

    Episode five of Another Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    In 2000, the UK government received a windfall of around £23 billion from its auction of third generation (3G) mobile phone licences. This astronomical sum wasn't the result of corporate bidders "losing their heads", but a careful strategy designed to maximise proceeds for the Treasury.

    —Huffduffed by kfeighery

  7. Game Theory

    Episode five of Another Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

    In 2000, the UK government received a windfall of around £23 billion from its auction of third generation (3G) mobile phone licences. This astronomical sum wasn't the result of corporate bidders "losing their heads", but a careful strategy designed to maximise proceeds for the Treasury.

    —Huffduffed by adactio