Monday, December 22, 2014

Math in the Media: Prime Gaps....

I am always amazed at how some of the most vexing, curious and fascinating puzzles in mathematics can be stated so simply, even as they evade solution or even complete understanding for centuries.  It is one of the more alluring aspects of this trade. 

Here's one:  Just how big can the gaps between consecutive pairs of prime numbers get as one traverses the natural numbers out toward infinity? 

One would expect the gaps to get larger and larger and also tend toward infinity in the long run, no?  But showing this, and providing some sort of measure of the growth of the size of the gaps as one goes "out there" has been remarkably elusive. 

I'll let you read this nice article by Erica Klarreich in Quanta Magazine, to "see" that progress has recently been made, and there is promise of more progress coming. 
Mathematicians Make a Major Discovery About Prime Numbers
Will math ever cease to amaze....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Math in the Media: Mathematics is Evil?

There is an old saying (really, I just made this up):  If you are looking for immortality, you have two choices.  Become famous, or become infamous.  Either way, you will not soon be forgotten....

A professor here is uncovering an interesting conjecture.  The fictitious, evil mastermind and arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, Professor James Moriarity, was modeled by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a mathematics professor here at Hopkins.  The similarities are quite striking, detailed here by current professor Carl McTague

Moriarity at Hopkins

Give it a read.  Nice idea, eh?