21 April 2016

The Importance of Prime Numbers (It's Not Just Maths)

I decided to do a bit of a different kind of life lessons post this time because while I was walking home from school thinking about maths and prime numbers, I realised the message that they can give to us all and how significant they really are even if on the face of it they aren't really.

What is a prime number?

"A prime number is a whole number greater than 1, whose only two whole-number factors are 1 and itself" - WhatIs.com

I think that prime numbers have a very important message for everyone. Maybe this is just something a maths geek would say but I noticed this and realised what a significant message they portrayed for us all.

Are they any good?

Okay, let's admit it, prime numbers are pretty useless. You can't do anything much with them because they can only be divided by themselves and one. From the start of school we're always taught this, and we should all be able to recite at least a few of the first prime numbers or this maths geek is going to be a little disapointed.

Why would a number that you can't do very much with have a special name?

Despite the fact that prime numbers seemingly have no point at all, they are always shown as special when they are talked about or taught in school:

  • For starters, they have their very own name: prime numbers.
  • Second, many people have written articles on prime numbers whether it's about their significance or even on the pursuit of beauty and primes. I found another article on prime number progress in the world and about finding new prime numbers, which I found very interesting.
  • Third, if you ever manage to find a brand new prime number, you could be given a reward of $100000 or more, just for finding it and telling everyone (check out this interesting article on the history of finding primes).
  • Fourth, is prime factorisation: people have found that all the numbers that aren't prime numbers can be divided into prime factors, so "it is like the prime numbers are the basic building blocks of all numbers".

The message of prime numbers:

So after that pretty long list, I think you get the picture. Prime numbers are actually very very important even if on the face it, they may seem pointless. The message I got from this is that just because you think you're no good at very much and keep not doing as well as you would hope at things, you are still special. And definitely as special as a few numbers.

Even though on the face of it you may not have achieved as much as you hoped or don't look quite as good as all the photoshopped models or whatever your insecurity or struggle is, that doesn't mean you aren't special or significant in the world. Someone in the world gave a very special name to the numbers that seemingly can do the least, so why wouldn't you be special too.