Wait A Minute — Are Primes Really “Random” After All?

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.24.11 AM

The first buncha counting numbers, with primes in red.


There’s a LOT of buzz in the mathematics community this week with an exciting new discovery about Prime Numbers.  Maybe they aren’t so random after all.  Or maybe “random” has to mean something different when it comes to Prime Numbers.

It turns out that in the first billion Prime Numbers, there’s a high probability that the last digit does not repeat in consecutive Primes.  In other words, a Prime that ends in 9 is not likely to be followed by another Prime ending in 9.  In fact, 65% of the time it is followed by a Prime ending in 1.  By our understanding of “random”, it should be approximately evenly distributed among 1, 3, 7, and 9 (the only digits that Primes above single digits can end with).

Well then.  This changes…something?  Or does it?

Check it out here:  https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160313-mathematicians-discover-prime-conspiracy/


Read the article linked above.  In a couple of paragraphs, explain why this discovery is exciting to mathematicians and why so many mathematicians are surprised by it.  The final quote of the article poses a question — make a list of 3 to 5 things that you wonder about Prime Numbers that might be answers to that question.

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