I’m in western Vermont until Wednesday morning, totally off the grid except for a 56K dialup connection which seems much slower. I’m visiting my father and sister, and I found an item that follows right along with the prime number conversation we’ve been having here.
Since I’ve already finished the books I brought with me (Robert B. Parker’s School Days (not the best of the Spenser series) and Keith Olbermann’s The Worst Person In The World (and 202 Strong Contenders)), I checked out the bookshelves that cover a wall of Dad’s living room. I found there a copy of John Derbyshire’s Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics.
Riemann was working a close relative of the problem we were working last week: can a formula be built to describe the quantity of prime numbers found between 1 and some number N? The book is a fascinating discussion of both Riemann (the man’s life and his place in mathematics) and the problem itself, which has vexed mathematicians since Riemann first posed a hypothesis in a seminal 1859 paper.
I’m currently four chapters into this book, which the Christian Science Monitor describes as, “a math book that reads like a mystery novel.” I’ll need to leave it here when I depart, so I’ll probably need to find a copy of my own before I can provide a full discussion, but based on the first 48 pages, I highly recommend this book.
More later in the week when I’m back in my own time zone..