Do prime numbers have free will?

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 17:42:03 +0200


I love so much this citation (often quoted) of D. Zagier, which seems
to me to describe so well what is peculiar with ... humans, which
behaviors are simultaneously completely determinated by numbers/math or
waves/physics and at the same time are so much rich and unpredictible.
I find instructive to see that primes already behaves like that ....

"There are two facts about the distribution of prime numbers of which I
hope to convince you so overwhelmingly that they will be permanently
engraved in your hearts. The first is that, despite their simple
definition and role as the building blocks of the natural numbers, the
prime numbers...grow like weeds among the natural numbers, seeming to
obey no other law than that of chance, and nobody can predict where the
next one will sprout. The second fact is even more astonishing, for it
states just the opposite: that the prime numbers exhibit stunning
regularity, that there are laws governing their behaviour, and that
they obey these laws with almost military precision."


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Received on Tue Apr 04 2006 - 11:43:37 PDT

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