The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters

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9781841155791: The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters

In a stunning, historical narrative, 'The Music of the Primes' reveals the history behind one of the biggest ideas in science. In 1859, the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann presented a paper to the Berlin Academy which would change the history of mathematics. The subject was the strange and enigmatic prime numbers. At the heart of the presentation was an idea, a hypothesis, that Riemann had not yet proved but which has come to obsess mathematicians for the last 150 years. No one knows if he ever found the proof; on his death his housekeeper burnt all the personal papers. Today, the hypothesis is considered by many the holy grail of mathematics but has significance far beyond maths. At the of the heart of the enigma is a prize much larger than just intellectual glory; not only is there a $1 million reward for the person who can crack it but also is the key to all banking and e-commerce security. It is the idea that brings together many other areas of science and has ramifications within Quantum Mechanics, Chaos Theory and the future of computing. In 'The Music of the Primes', one of Britain's leading mathematicians, Marcus du Sautoy, recounts the history of these elusive numbers. It is a story of eccentric and brilliant men, last minute escapes from death, strange journeys, dangerous ideas and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that drove some men mad and others to unparalleled glory. du Sautoy also tells a coruscating history of Mathematics. Combining in-depth knowledge as a practitioner in the field with narrative flair, this book will become a classic of popular science writing and will rank alongside 'Chaos' and 'Fermat's Last Theorem' within the genre. The Riemann Hypothesis: / Compared to Fermat's Last Theorem, the Hypothesis is mathematicians' real Holy Grail / Is the only problem from Hilbert's 1900 Centenary Problems that was unproved in the 20th century and now has a $1 million reward for the person who cracks it. / The Hypothesis is the key to all Internet and e-commerce security

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From the Back Cover:

Prime numbers are the atoms of arithmetic, the building blocks for all other numbers. In school, we are taught that a prime is one that cannot be divided evenly by any other number except one and itself. What we are not taught is that primes represent the most tantalizing mystery in the pursuit of human knowledge. How can one predict when the next prime number will occur? Is there a formula that could generate primes? Where is the pattern behind these elusive numbers? These questions have formed a riddle that has confounded mathematicians since the ancient Greeks. The answer would revolutionize the world of math, and much more.

Nearly 150 years ago, a German mathematician named Bernard Riemann came as close as anyone has ever come to solving this problem. In 1859 he presented a paper on the subject of prime numbers to the Berlin Academy. At the heart of his presentation was an idea -- a hypothesis -- that seemed to reveal a magical harmony between primes and other numbers. It was an idea that Riemann argued was very likely to be true. But after his death, his housekeeper burned all of his personal papers, and to this day, no one knows whether he ever found the proof.

By now, the Riemann Hypothesis has become the number one obsession for the world's leading mathematicians. Considered to be even more difficult and more important than Fermat's Last Theorem, Riemann's solution would serve as a periodic table in charting the entire mathematical universe. But it has implications that go far beyond math. It is of tremendous importance in business, since prime numbers are the linchpin for security in banking and e-commerce. It is also the idea that brings together vastly different areas of science, with critical ramifications for Quantum Mechanics, Chaos Theory, and the future of computing. Pioneers in each of these fields are racing to crack the code, and a prize of one million dollars has been offered to the winner.

In this remarkable book, Marcus du Sautoy tells a story of eccentric and brilliant men, and of the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that has driven some to madness and others to glory. Illuminating, authoritative, and extremely engaging, The Music of the Primes provides the extraordinary history behind the holy grail of mathematics and the ongoing quest to capture it.

About the Author:

Marcus du Sautoy is a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford and has been named by The Independent on Sunday as one of Britain leading scientists. In 2001 he won the Berwick Prize of The London Mathmatical Society and in 2006 gace the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. His book 'The Music of the Prmes' was published in 2003 to widespread acclaim.

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