Five More Numbers

1. Another Five Numbers
2. Prime Numbers
3. Untold Story of Arne Beurling
4. Volcanic Smoke Rings
5. Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure
6. Cryptogram Competition
7. Fermat Trivia Quiz
8. Competition Winners
9. New Search Engine on the Site

1. Another Five Numbers

Last year I presented a series called Five Numbers. Now the producer Adrian Washbourne and I are back with Another Five Numbers. It is a series of snappy fifteen-minute mathematical adventures. The series starts on Tues 22 April at 9.30am on Radio 4 and runs for five weeks. If you are not in the UK or miss the programme, then you can hear it on-line at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/

You can find out about the old series and hear it at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/5numbers.shtml

2. Prime Numbers

Prime numbers have been in the news recently. In particular, there is a new and surprising way to determine if a number is prime. People have been asking if this impacts on the security of crypto systems (e.g., RSA). The answer is “No”. The breakthrough is incredibly important and interesting, but it does not have any bearing on the factoring of primes. The sites below explain more about this breakthrough and other prime number headline stories.

http://www.utm.edu/research/primes/prove/prove4_3.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2911945.stm
http://www.utm.edu/research/primes/index.html
http://www.mersenne.org/prime.htm

(If you subscribe to the final site, you can help find a new prime number.)

3. Untold Story of Arne Beurling

I have just received a copy of a new biography of the brilliant but largely ignored Swedish wartime codebreaker Arne Beurling. In covering 3,000 years of cryptography in my book (The Code Book), I inevitably had to leave out some of the heroes of cryptography, and Beurling is one of the most prominent omissions. You can catch up on his cracking of the German G-Schreiber in Codebreakers by Bengt Beckman (ISBN 0-8218-2889-4).

4. Volcanic Smoke Rings

This article is one of the niftiest things I’ve read this year. Volcanoes can sometimes blow smoke rings, and if you visit the page then you can see Etna performing the trick.

6. Cryptogram

This time, I am offering a cryptographic puzzle rather than a pure cryptogram. What is cryptographically special about the words COLD and FROG? Hint: H BZLD, H RZV, H BNMPTDQDC. You can find out how to enter at: https://www.simonsingh.net/Crypto_competition.html
The winner will receive a Toolkit – a copy of The Code Book and the accompanying CD-ROM.

8. Competition Winners

Which singer is in the PRESBYTERIANS? Well if you solved this anagram from the previous newsletter, then you will already know that the answer is BRITNEY SPEARS. Alexander Ovcharenko of the Ukraine was drawn out of the hat and wins a copy of “Cryptography” by Fred Piper and Sean Murphy. The last cryptogram was solved by dozens of people. The winning entry is from Worasait Suwannik from Thailand, who wins a copy of the Young Readers Edition of “The Code Book” and my crypto CD-ROM.

9. New Search Engine on the Site

Finally, I have just moved the entire site (www.simonsingh.net) to a new host. The good news is that there is now a search engine for the site, accessible from the main menu on the home page. The bad news is that there might be a few glitches, although the host has been active for a month now and I have heard of only a couple of problems. If you do encounter a problem, then please

Cheerio,
Simon Singh.

Ps. If you need to email me, then please do not reply to this address, as your email will not reach me. Please go via the website https://www.simonsingh.net and click on the contact button. It takes me ages to answer emails, as I am struggling to keep up with my correspondence, so please be patient.