10³⁰ + 666 × 10 + 1: the dark number with a diabolical reputation

  • Dahlia Ventura
  • BBC News World

image source, Getty Images

This is the story of a hunter and a weaver of stories, but, above all, of a somewhat sinister number.

To be more precise, one of the prime numbers, those that are divisible only by 1 and themselves, and that have been a source of fascination since the dawn of civilization.

Or at least since about 3,570 years ago, when, during the reign of Apophis I, the Egyptian scribe Ahmes created the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and recorded fractions whose denominators were prime numbers differently.

Mathematicians have spent millions of hours on them because, as well as being beautiful, seductive and very useful, they are also infuriating: these number theory atoms have no obvious pattern, so the more they are found, the more erratic they seem to be.

10³⁰ + 666 × 10 + 1: the dark number with a diabolical reputation – BBC News Mundo