Research NewsMathematics

Prime Formula Weds Number Theory and Quantum Physics

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Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 2014-2015
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.2014


A problem in number theory and a problem in physics may turn out to be two sides of the same numerical coin. Quantum physicists think a mathematical beast known as the Riemann zeta function, which encodes information about prime numbers, could provide a key to understanding the behavior of complex atomic systems. At the same time, the connection with physics could break a longtime logjam in pure mathematics by leading to a proof of a century-old problem.