Donald and the prime numbers


Lesen Sie die deutsche Version hier.

The man who still calls himself President of the United States has an answer for everything. Racial unrest? Leftist anarchists are to blame. Industry going down the drain? Punitive tariffs against China. Coronavirus? Hit the body with UV light and inject it with disinfectant. Only he hasn’t yet spoken up about mathematical questions. Too bad, for if he would, it might go something like this:

First the irrelevant facts: prime numbers are integers greater than 1 that are divisible only by themselves and 1. Which numbers are these? Somehow it got missed by all the researchers at MTI, or maybe it was MIT, doesn’t matter, but now Donald has made the discovery and tweeted it: all odd numbers are prime, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and so on. White House press conference on some irritating other issue (Corona, Russia, China, unemployment), and one of those awful journalists dares to bring it up: «Mr. President, you say that 9 is a prime number, but 9 is 3·3 and thus divisible by 3.»

Donald: «Fake News! Believe me, 9 is a wonderful prime number. It comes down to how you define it. I just said that all odd numbers are prime. I believe we need more prime numbers, and when all odd numbers are prime, it’s better for America. I will make it a priority of my administration to get every American his own prime number. We need more and better prime numbers than Russia, China, and India, together. We will make millions and billions of prime numbers.»

Journalist: «But researchers at MIT claim that anyway there are infinitely many prime numbers. What you are presenting, Mr. President, is a solution without a problem. Besides, you just said that all odd numbers are prime, what more do you want?»

Donald: «A lot of people say that all even numbers are prime too. I even heard that 2 is a prime number. I think all numbers are prime numbers.»

Debriefing with his chief mathematician, a great man: «Mr. President, you did very well, but just to set things straight: 2 is the only even prime, because 4, 6, 8 and so on are all divisible by themselves, by 1, and also by 2 (that’s why they’re called even). Not every odd number is necessarily prime, but there are infinitely many prime numbers, a fact that is shown early in the math studies. You’d better speak of twin primes – these are pairs of prime numbers that are 2 apart, like 11 and 13. No one knows if there are infinitely many twin primes, not even those so-called scientists at MIT. So you can say what you like.» – «You’re fired!»

«Das intelligenteste
Magazin der Schweiz.»
Rolf Dobelli, Bestseller-Autor und Unternehmer,
über den «Schweizer Monat»