Prime Number Guru Unravels Mysteries Of 101

April 11 is the 101st day of the year. Mathematician Christopher Caldwell explains some of the mathematical mysteries surrounding the number. For instance, 101 is a "cyclops prime" — a prime number with an "eye" — or zero — in the middle.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

REBECCA ROBERTS, host:

Welcome back to the 101st ALL THINGS CONSIDERED of the year. I'm Rebecca Roberts.

Let's start our exploration of All Things 101 with a look at the number itself.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL (Mathematician, University of Tennessee): A hundred and one is the 26th prime number. Prime numbers are numbers greater than one that are only divisible by themselves and one.

ROBERTS: That's prime number guru Christopher Caldwell from the University of Tennessee. He says number groupies have developed all sorts of wacky terms for primes. For example, 101 is classified as a twin prime.

Mr. CALDWELL: A hundred and one, 103 are - together make a pair of twin primes. Twin primes are two primes that differ by two, like three and five or 11 and 13. We believe there's infinitely many of them, but at this point, we cannot prove that's true.

ROBERTS: One thing that is true, 101 is the first cyclops prime.

Mr. CALDWELL: Well, a cyclops prime is one with a zero in the middle of it. So a single zero in the middle of number kind of like having an eye in the middle.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: