# The Primes

## It is often said that Mathematics is a universal language. No matter one's culture, country, gender, race, or even religion, certain mathematical principles remain true. The fundamental letters of the mathematical alphabet are known as the primes.

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Mathematics Illuminates: Unit 1 – The Primes Video Transcript

It is often said that Mathematics is a universal language. No matter one’s culture, country, gender, race, or even religion, certain mathematical principles remain true. The fundamental letters of the mathematical alphabet are known as the primes.

Ishango Bone

The properties and patterns of prime numbers — whole numbers that are divisible only by themselves and one — have been a source of wonder across cultures for thousands of years, and the study of prime numbers is fundamental to mathematics. This unit explores our fascination with primes, culminating in the million-dollar puzzle of the Riemann Hypothesis, a possible description of the pattern behind the primes, and the use of the primes as the foundation of modern cryptography.

### Unit Goals

• Primes are the fundamental building blocks of arithmetic.
• There are infinitely many prime numbers.
• The fundamental theorem of arithmetic says that each whole number can be uniquely decomposed into products of primes.
• The answer to whether or not there is a pattern behind the primes has eluded mathematicians for millennia.
• One can find arbitrarily long “prime deserts” on the number line.
• One can find finite arithmetic sequences of primes of any length.
• Clock math is a way of generalizing arithmetic.
• Primes and clock math can be used together to create strong encryption schemes.

# Bibliography

## Print

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### Credits

Produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. 2008.
• Closed Captioning
• ISBN: 1-57680-886-6