Prime Curios! The Dictionary of Prime Number Trivia.

An essential reference for all who love primes by Chris Caldwell and G. L. Honaker, Jr.

In what year did England make it illegal to jail a jury for returning the “wrong” decision? What was Jenny’s phone number in Tommy Tutone’s hit song? What is the most votes a candidate received for the U.S. Presidency while incarcerated? The answers are all prime, and in this book.

For one author, primes are an area of research, for the other, a passion; but both of us love recreational mathematics. There are quite a few books of number trivia, but none focused on just the primes. There are also many excellent books and websites addressing the theory of primes, but this one is just for the pleasure of it.

It is that joy, that pleasure, that is the heart and soul of the science of numbers: number theory. Yet out of idle ideas often comes real mathematics. For example, Stanislaw Ulam, while sitting bored in a meeting, started writing the numbers in an array, beginning with one and then “spiraling.” When he marked the primes, there seemed to be lines of primes (click on the small image to see a larger one). These lines represent consecutive values of quadratic functions. Ulam’s doodled spiral appeared on the cover of Scientific American the following year (March 1964), and still regularly generates research papers.