Mastering The Best Useless Skill – Reading Text in Binary

By Anupum Pant

The next time you see a series of 0s and 1s, you will no longer need to take it to a computer and feed it in to read it. Of course you might never have to read a text in binary, and that is the reason this might be the most useless skill you could master right away. I’m doing it anyway.

Tom Scott from YouTube  recently posted a video on YouTube where he teaches you how to read text written in binary. It’s fairly easy. The only thing you need to practice, if you don’t already know it, is the number that is associated with each alphabet (Like it’s 1 for A and 2 for B and so on).

via [ScienceDump]

Wilson Primes

By Anupum Pant

Thanks to the guys at Numberphile for introducing me to Wilson primes. Although the piece of information that describes Wilson primes itself has more or less no practical use, I still think it’s a good thing to know.

The first thing you need to know is that all prime numbers follow this rule – If you take a prime number P and put it in the following equation you get a number that is perfectly divisible by the prime number P.

The equation: (P − 1)! + 1 = Q

Note: ! is a sign used for factorial. That means P! is equal to the product of all natural numbers smaller or equal to P. So, for example, 3! = 3 X 2 X 1

This rule is valid for all prime numbers and no composite numbers follow it. So, for instance, if you take a composite number for P, the number you get after you put it in the above equation is never divisible by the number itself. This is called the Wilson’s theorem.

Wilson primes (P) are a few special numbers which can divide Q in the equation above two times. So, for example, since 5 is a Wilson prime, you get 25 if you put it in the equation above. And 25 can be divided perfectly by 5 once, and the result (quotient 5) can be divided again by 5 to get a whole number.

Now, for Wilson primes here’s the deal – 5, 13 and 563 are Wilson Primes. And a very interesting thing to note here is that, in spite of all the computing technology we have in the world, these are the only three Wilson primes we know yet.

Mathematicians are pretty certain that there are several other Wilson primes waiting to get discovered, probably infinitely many. But one thing is for sure, below the number 20,000,000,000,000 5. 13 and 563 are the only three which exist.

A Piece of Paper as Thick as the Universe

By Anupum Pant

Linear growth is only what we can visualize well. Estimating things that grow exponentially, is something not many of us can do properly.

Here’s what happens when you fold a piece of paper. A paper of thickness 1/10 of a millimetre doubles its thickness. On the second fold it is 4 times the initial thickness and so on. It doesn’t really seem like it would grow a lot after, say, 10 folds, right?

After 10 folds, the paper which was about the thickness of your hair, turns into something that is as thick as your hand.

Without any calculation, how thick do you think would it become if you could fold it 103 times?  (I know, no one has ever folded a paper more than 12 times)

Think about this for a second: How many times do you think would you have to fold a paper to make it 1 kilometre thick? The answer is 23. Yes, it takes just 13 more folds to go from the thickness of a hand to a whole kilometre.

Turns out, if you manage to somehow fold a paper 30 times, it would become 100 km tall. The paper would now reach the space.

For the sake of imagining how exponential growth works, a paper folded 103 times would be about 93 Billion light years thick – which is also the estimated size of the observable universe.

Watch the video below to see one other great example of how exponential growth can mess with you.