Prime Number$

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A prime is any number which is only divisible by itself and the number 1. Despite popular lay-belief, the number 1 is not a prime number. The first ten primes are: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23 and 29. Euclid proved in his treatise Elements (300BC) that there are an infinite number of primes. When written in base 10, all prime numbers, with the exceptions of 2 and 5, end with the digits 1, 3, 7 or 9.

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For many years prime number theory was thought to be an area of interest only to pure theorists, as there seemed to be no real world application. Midway through the 1970s, however, prime number theory proved central to the evolution of public key cryptography. This type of digital encryption, which relies on the unpredictable occurrence of very large prime numbers in the number line, became the principal technology for keeping information such as credit card numbers and passwords secure on the Internet. Until the year 2012 many thought that the unearthing of an algorithm capable of generating the very large prime numbers used in digital encryption was simply too boring a task for any human being.

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Norman *** was a hobbyist mathematician from Bathgate, a town in Scotland currently thought to be the most dull location in the world. Norman *** was a trained actuary, which most agree is the least interesting profession known to man. Norman found interaction with other people very difficult and became obsessed with gaming, pornography and gambling on the Internet. Upon discovering that *** had run up bills of almost 3 million USD using credit card information stolen from inhabitants of the state of Atlanta, the FBI raided his home. There they discovered a database containing the identity information of almost every American citizen alive.

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Three months after the collapse of internet trading The Times (London) reported in its Technology section, that for Mr ***’s next trick, he intended to wipe the Internet clean of information “with a giant magnet and a 48k modem”. He was soon after found dead, a single bullet hole in his forehead. Conspiracy theorists point out that by all rights he should have been in a prison cell awaiting trial when the assassination took place.

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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