Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prime Numbers, Math and Art

I read the other day that the largest prime number known to man is the M39 prime -- a monstrosity of a number that is 4,053,946 digits long.  Why mathematicians are constantly looking for the largest prime is beyond me.  It's not clear if they are looking for some cosmic significance if, by remote chance, some super powerful computer says that you have found the last ever prime number possible.  The search for the exact value of the number Pi is in the same category as "why and what for?" Man, especially mathematicians like to think that there is some order in this universe that provides for elegance in our number system.  Artists, on the other hand, endeavor to find some inner meaning in something that is completely the opposite.  While mathematicians crank away at barreling through the complexity of number, artists labor at finding peace in simplicity and conciseness.  Are artists and mathematicians on diametrically opposite sides of the equation?  Hardly, I think.  Both are actually looking for meaning and in the process of doing so, throw away most, if not all, forms of pragmatism.  They may actually coexist even but the actual benefits to mankind of their labor, is not clear.  After I read about the M39 prime, I was thinking, what if I create a series of drawings of prime numbers.  Even just writing down as many prime numbers as I can in one day, how old will I be by the time I get to M39?  After working on the first prime (above), I pretty much decided that I'd be better off spending my time doing other things.

"The First Prime" (2012) - gel ink pen on paper

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