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10th December 2002: "Dr. Riemann's Zero's"

"If a mathematician would sell his soul for the proof of one theorem I think it would be the Riemann Hypothesis." Hugh Montgomery, Univ. of Michigan.

The most interesting numbers in the world of mathematics - and also computing, cryptography and numerical analysis - are the prime numbers. Scattered through the mathematical landscape, we do not know if they appear randomly or to a pattern. The Riemann Hypothesis purports to give an answer: but it is as yet unproven. A mind-bending problem more important and difficult than Fermat's Last Theorem, it has remained unsolved for 150 years. In May 2000, an American foundation offered a million-dollar prize to the first person to demonstrate the Hypothesis is correct.

There are some 20 mathematicians world wide who would 'sell their souls' to find the answer. For all of them, their precocity was evident from childhood. For some of them, "maths is better than sex". Karl Sabbagh's gloriously inventive story makes this airiest peak of maths compelling and accessible, and vividly captures what mesmerises and motivates some of the world's most imaginative minds to spend decades of their lives in the race to solve this problem.

No ticket, no booking, no experience required.

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