It has often been observed that mathematics is astonishingly effective as a tool for understanding the universe. But, asks Phil Wilson, why should this be? Is mathematics a universal truth, and how would we tell?
Marcus du Sautoy begins a two part exploration of the greatest unsolved problem of mathematics: The Riemann Hypothesis. In the first part, we find out how the German mathematician Gauss, aged only 15, discovered the dice that Nature used to chose the primes.
The number chosen by the England captain for his Real Madrid shirt is rich in mysterious connotations. But mathematician Marcus du Sautoy backs a new theory to explain why Beckham has plumped for number 23.
The Riemann Hypothesis is probably the hardest unsolved problem in all of mathematics, and one of the most important. It has to do with prime numbers - the building blocks of arithmetic. Nick Mee, together with Sir Arthur C. Clarke, tells us about the patterns hiding inside numbers.
In 1998, Goldbach's Conjecture was shown by computer to be true for even numbers up to 400,000,000,000,000. In addition, some progress has been made towards formally proving the conjecture. As of this year, mathematicians with Goldbach fever have some extra incentive for their labours.