Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Back in the Bits--Temporarily?

Thanks, Glen, for inviting me back to Agoraphilia! I enjoyed my visit back in August, and now look forward to settling in a bit more permanently. But maybe I presume too much. According to this recent report, the internet may not last much longer.

Well, ok, that perhaps takes the story's headline a bit too seriously. Even if, in fact, the Riemann hypothesis has been proven, it will at worse only greatly hamper the encryption presently crucial to e-commerce. On the upside, mathematicians will have reached a deeper understanding of prime numbers.

The story ends with a charming list: "Seven Baffling Pillars of Wisdom." Again, the title misleads. The list in fact offers seven (or six, if the Riemann hypothesis has been proven) profound puzzles. They thus represent black holes of ignorance rather than pillars of wisdom. But, like black holes, they inspire awe. And, again like black holes, they perhaps offer us portals to as-yet unexplored worlds.

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