Surprisingly, 42 may indeed be the answer

(via Slashdot)

Very interesting article over at the Seed magazine web site.  It’s a great discussion of number theory, placement of primes, the relationship between heavy elements’ energy patterns and prime number locations, the Riemann Hypothesis.

There is an important sequence of numbers called “the moments of the Riemann zeta function.” Although we know abstractly how to define it, mathematicians have had great difficulty explicitly calculating the numbers in the sequence. We have known since the 1920s that the first two numbers are 1 and 2, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that mathematicians conjectured that the third number in the sequence may be 42—a figure greatly significant to those well-versed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It would also prove to be significant in confirming the connection between primes and quantum physics. Using the connection, Keating and Snaith not only explained why the answer to life, the universe and the third moment of the Riemann zeta function should be 42, but also provided a formula to predict all the numbers in the sequence. Prior to this breakthrough, the evidence for a connection between quantum physics and the primes was based solely on interesting statistical comparisons. But mathematicians are very suspicious of statistics. We like things to be exact. Keating and Snaith had used physics to make a very precise prediction that left no room for the power of statistics to see patterns where there are none.

But I have to admit, I’m not certain I believe that solving the Riemann Hypothesis will allow one to crack Internet encryption (bad reference to TV show involving math).

[tags]42, H^2G^2, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Riemann Hypothesis, 42[/tags]