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Posts Tagged ‘prime numbers’

Dammit, you guys. It’s sodding Talk Like A Pirate Day and nobody told me! Well, it’s too late to get into the spirit of it now. Arrr well.

Did anyone else watch The Daily Show on Monday, and wonder whether Sarah Palin is under the impression that we’re at war with the Weeping Angels? Just me?

Ooh, they verified the two newest Mersenne prime numbers. The larger of the two is the biggest prime number ever discovered: it’s 12,978,189 digits long, and there is no way of dividing it up into any number of equal-sized portions. Nifty.

Yeah, I’m still pretty lame today, as far as productivity levels go. I’ll get back into the swing of things soon, I’m always really good at getting stuff done on weekends. Oh, wait, I’m thinking of going to the cinema and lazing on my sofa with tea and chocolate. That’s what I’m good at doing on weekends. Damn.

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Been fairly occupied with other things today (partly writing a book, partly watching one of my favourite Buffy episodes), so just have a few bits and pieces to half-heartedly report on.

I’ve also been scribbling more thoughts on this ongoing dialogue of sorts with Eric, my wacky Christian buddy. You can catch up with that in the comments a few posts down from here, or on his blog, but as a bonus DVD extra, here’s a quick thought that didn’t make it into that discussion, after I rewrote the whole piece in a somewhat different direction.

Eric said:

I also agree that we should not be subject to a tyrannical god. However, to suggest that an omnipotent god, no matter his disposition, actually OWES us something, it [sic] to have a view or [sic] humanity a bit higher than our actual position in this universe.

Which sounds unusual, coming from someone who – unless my Christian theology is severely out of wack – believes that the universe was created solely in order for us to live in it. That would seem to set our position pretty high. You could stroll into the Total Perspective Vortex with that attitude and walk out with your sanity, no sweat.

But even leaving that slight glibness aside, I disagree with the entire premise here. If a being who is all-powerful, who knows what’s going on down here, and who loves us unconditionally, has created the world and all the rules by which it runs, and created us and put us here, then yes, he has a responsibility to us, he owes it to us not to neglect us and allow needless suffering.

If, instead of creating the world as he did, he’d simply made Hell and then conjured a few souls into existence solely to throw them into the fire and watch them burn for eternity, would that be just? Would he not owe his creations a little more respect, compassion, and basic decency than that? As it happens, God is not that sadistic, but we’re still apparently bound by his contract and his rules which we never had a chance not to agree to. We’re human beings, you don’t get to walk all over us just because you’re bigger and more powerful. We deserve better. Has Spiderman taught you nothing about what traditionally comes with great power?

So, there’s that.

In exciting maths news (not an oxymoron, so shush), the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search may have found a new Mersenne prime number – that is, a number into which no smaller number will divide exactly, and which takes the form 2n – 1, for some whole number n. If it checks out, it will be more than 12 million digits in length, far longer than the previous record-holder, which was just under 10 million digits long.

I get excited about these things. I’ll be following this story closely and providing regular updates.

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