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another sum exlusive

Issue 4 - October 2000

Prize Sparks goldbach rush

Prize Sparks goldbach rush PUBLISHING giant Faber and Faber is offering a prize of one million dollars to anyone who can prove the theory known as Goldbach's Conjecture within the next two years.

The offer is part of the publicity drive for a new book by a Greek mathematician and author Apostolos Doxiadis called Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture in which a man dedicates his life to the challenge.

The book has already been translated into 15 languages and Faber has high hopes of it becoming a bestseller, given the recent success of stories about great scientific quests like Dava Sovel's Longitude and Simon Singh's Fermat's Last Theorem.

If you don't know what Goldbach's Conjecture is, see the box below.

If you do, then there is a chance you may want to throw your hat into the ring and have a shot at the million dollar prize. Be warned though, the proof has to be published by a respectable mathematical journal within two years and proved correct by Faber's panel of experts.

Faber has spent a five-figure sum insuring itself again a pay-out, but boss Tony Faber said he would be happy to hand over the prize.

He said: "Now that we are insured, I'd love it if someone won."

Professor Ian Stewart of Warwick University was optimistic about the likehood of someone solving the challenge.

He said: "I think some mathematicians will be dazzled by a million dollars. It might just tilt the balance."


A Rough Guide to Goldbach's Conjecture

Mathematician Christian Goldbach, in a letter sent in 1742 to Leonhard Euler, speculated that every even integer greater than two can be expressed as the sum of two (not necessarily different) prime numbers.

An alternative way of expressing this is that every even integer greater than four can be expressed as the sum of two odd primes.

Goldbach expressed the belief that "Every integer n > 5 is the sum of three primes".

Euler contributed to the discussion by pointing out that this is easily seen to be equivalent to the statement that "Every even integer 2n >= 4 is the sum of two primes".

The story so far...

Some progress has been made towards formally proving the conjecture. In 1966 Chen proved that every sufficiently large even integer is the sum of a prime plus a number with no more than two prime factors In 1995, Ramare proved that every even integer is the sum of at most six primes. However, despite these and other efforts, nobody has yet come up with a full proof that Goldbach's Conjecture holds for all even numbers other than 2 (i.e. up to infinity). In 1998, Goldbach's Conjecture was shown by computer to be true for even numbers up to 400,000,000,000,000.

Source: Pass Maths


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