Stories from our international boarding schools

Mathematicians do long-division all day, right?

To start 2019, a few students including myself who are very interested in mathematics traveled two hours to Birmingham. Marcus du Sautoy spoke on the topic of, “The Number Mysteries.” Sautoy is a mathematician for Oxford University and has written several books on topics across math. For those of you that don’t exactly understand what a mathematician does on a day to day basis, Marcus explains it as, “a science of patterns.”

Overall the lecture was not at all what I expected. He liked to get his audience involved and didn’t go too deep into theories and math where no one had any idea what he was talking about. He explained everything, so people who were less knowledgeable were able to gain a basic understanding.

The lecture started with different arithmetic sequences he wanted us to solve for the next number such as:

1) 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, ?

2) 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, ?

3) 8, 9 , 10, 45, 53, ?

4) 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, ?

For the first one, the answer would be 8 because of the Fibonacci code. The next one is 31 even though the answer you would think is 32. This formula is because of Circle Division. Then number 3 there is 21, and there is no exact pattern because they are the winning Lotto UK numbers on January 2nd, 2019. Then the 4th answer is 17, and all the numbers are primes. He gave us a little tip for possibly winning the lottery too, and I guess I can share it with you. If you look at past lotteries and the winning numbers, most of them have 2 consecutive numbers.

So next time when you are picking numbers and praying to win big, remember that. And it is possible for the same numbers to appear in a row the next week. In fact, In September 2009, an investigation was launched by authorities in Bulgaria after the same six numbers were drawn in two consecutive rounds of the national lottery. The odds of this happening were calculated to be one in four million.

Following this activity, Sautoy explored deeper into the basis behind prime numbers: the basic building blocks of arithmetics. There is no formula YET, for prime numbers, but the most significant prime number found is 23 million digits long!


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