Hi and welcome back
What are prime numbers and why would you care?
Prime numbers are whole numbers which can ONLY be divided by 1 and themselves. The first few primes are 2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23 . . .
Can you see a pattern? Nope. Neither can anyone else, and we've been trying as a species for thousands of years.
Why do they matter? Do you use online banking? Facebook? Twitter? Your password is stored in various places and you can even view it and paint it on your house in total comfort. Why? Because it's "hashed" i.e. scrambled so as to be unrecognisable. The way of changing it from a garbled mess to whatever it actually is involves prime numbers! Computers are stupid but they are very, very quick in a straight line. Unfortunately for the Dr Evils of the world, and fortunately for you, there is no quick way to compute prime number distribution.
In simple terms, 2 MASSIVE primes are multiplied together and then messed around with a little more. By the time the super villain with access to NASAs mainframes has cracked your password you will HOPEFULLY have changed it anyway!
Many scientists and mathematicians have been driven to madness by solving the riddles inherent to the primes. As I'm as mad as a fruitcake anyways, I figure I've nothing to lose! :-)
However, there ARE patterns in the primes which brings me on to my consuming passion. The Riemann Hypothesis. There is a 1 million Dollar prize for cracking it, but more importantly, the chance to go down in history as Euclid, Pythagoras, Einstein or Newton did. Intrigued? My next article will try to explain the Riemann Hypothesis in simple terms.