Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Early Morning Question

"What is a prime number?", was the question my older son fired at me in the morning while half-awake I was slowly emerging from the bedroom. "It is a number that can be divided only on one and itself," muttered I without stopping and froze in place. How did I know this? Math never was my strongest subject, plus all that I learnt about it was in Russian, so it wouldn't have spilled out of me so readily in English. My mind kept working on this puzzle for a while and finally I remembered. About four years ago I watched " The Mirror Has Two Faces", a romantic comedy with Barbra Streisand, where two main characters had a discussion about prime numbers. Being intrigued I did a bit of reading on the subject and apparently some of it was retained. The power of media!

The reason for such a strange morning greeting was a game boy game "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?", which my boys and I like to play. It often makes us run for the dictionary, encyclopedia or atlas. And I don't care to admit how many times it does make me feel less smart than a fifth grader.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Primes are interesting for many reasons; their apparently less-than-random distribution among the other numbers seems so compelling to me:

http://www.numberspiral.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulam_spiral

C&C said...

Thank you for the link, I'll check it.