April 25, 2003
Prime bear

Dave Barry (archiving mess – scroll down to Wed April 23) calls this his "educational site of the year". Yes it's Alkulukuja Paskova Karhu, the Prime Number Shitting Bear.

I actually learned quite a lot about Prime Numbers from this eccentric animal, like how around 1,000 they are a lot more frequent than I had supposed, nearly as close together as they start out being.

I don't have to have it explained why mathematicians find Prime Numbers fascinating, because they find anything mathematical fascinating by definition, but do Prime Numbers have any uses other than as something for joke bears on joke websites to emit from their recta? I've heard they're used for encoding things, or maybe for making it impossible to decode things. How does that work?

And do primes have other uses? Surely they must. Commenters who know maths? Here's your chance to broaden the minds of all the maths-phobic humanities snobs who flock here by the thousand.

And linguists! What language is "Alkulukuja Paskova Karhu", and what does it mean? I'm guessing it's Russian, and it's the bear's name, but what do I know?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:11 AM
Category: Maths