A few days ago, one of the lectures in the university told us about a funny (but real) news report he once heard on TV. It was shortly after the discovery that 2^(42,643,801)-1 is a prime. (For more information about this go to Mersenne prime search website). On this TV program a reporter was interviewing a math professor. The conversation went like this: (R= reporter, P=professor)

R: So what do you have to say about the discovery of the largest prime number 2^(42,643,801)?

P: The number 2^(42,643,801) is not prime since it is an even number. You must have ment to say 2^(42,643,801)-1.

R: Well, they are close enough. The important thing is that this is the largest prime number.

P: It is not the largest. Euclid proved that there is an infinite number of prime numbers so there is no such thing as the largest prime.

R: Is it still correct today that there are infinity many prime numbers?

I really find it hilarious how some people think that a mathematical proof is something that is subject to changes. Sure, sometimes we have errors or we find better proof, but the there is no change in the fact itself. I suppose it is somewhat understandable why people act like this - they are too used to seeing things change. But it is still hilarious to watch, as long as you not part of the discussion.

Grothendieck seminar at the ENS

21 hours ago

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