Princeton researchers have discovered fascinating parallels between the distribution of prime numbers and some specific natural crystal structures. Prime numbers have long been seen as unpredictable and somewhat chaotic, traits that have fascinated mathematics researchers. RSA encryption and other elements of modern cryptography take advantage of the chaotic aspect of very large prime numbers. The researchers represented prime numbers as a one-dimensional string of atoms and scattered light off of them, revealing a highly novel quasicrystal interference pattern. This may have major implications for studies of a periodic order and other research areas.

Key Takeaways:

  • The seemingly random nature of prime numbers – an integer that can only be divided by one or by itself — has long fascinated mathematicians.
  • RSA encryption and other principles of modern cryptography take advantage of the random aspect inherent to really large prime numbers.
  • Princeton researchers used computers to model prime numbers as strings of atoms and then scattered light off of them.

“The pattern has a surprising similarity to the one seen in atom distribution in crystals.”

Read more: