Let us talk about big numbers. Not the feeble integers with which we count human concerns: five digits for the number of days we may have on earth, or six figures for salary ambitions. A big number might have 63 zeros (a vigintillion), a unit with which we could count the number of atoms in the universe – literally an astronomical sum.
Of course ‘astronomical’ does a disservice to mathematics, because, unlike astronomy, mathematics goes on for ever. Scattered along this infinite linear universe – sometimes clustered, like distant galaxies – are prime numbers, the building blocks of all numbers. Ever since Euclid, we have known that the universe of primes goes on for ever.
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