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Welcome to sexy prime 2017!


1 February 2017

Well hello and welcome to the first Science Alliance newsletter of 2017.

If you're looking for the perfect way to prove your maths nerd credentials in the new year, go no further than this:

2017 is a prime number. Most people will be able to follow that, but they probably won't know that 2017 isn't just any old type of prime.

Mathematicians don't just look at prime numbers in isolation, they look at things like the distribution of primes and the relationship between primes and their neighbours.

To that end we call a pair of prime numbers that differ by two, like 3 and 5, 5 and 7, 11 and 13, 'twin primes'. A famous conjecture in mathematics says that there are an infinite number of twin primes and while we've made some fascinating advances in proving this in recent years, confirmation still eludes us.

Primes that differ by 4, like 3 and 7, 7 and 11, 13 and 17 are called 'cousin' primes (almost as closely related as twins;). And using the Latin word 'sex' which means 'six' a pair of primes that differ by 6 are called, you guessed it, 'sexy' primes. The primes 2011 and 2017 are such a pair.

Whether you'd like your 2017 to be prime or sexy, or both, is up to you. I hope it's going well so far!

Adam Spencer

* Adam Spencer's Time Machine is available from adamspencer.com.au and good bookstores.