The Corner

Zeta Function

Jonah: Since you asked, I’ll tell you. The zeta function is a gadget that,

if you give it a number, gives you a different number right back.

(Well, not ALWAYS different. There are a few scattered numbers –

1.833772651680271396245648589441523592181 is the easiest — that Zeta will

feed back to you unchanged.)

It works for any number whatsoever — whole numbers, negative numbers,

fractions and surds, transcendental and imaginary and complex. The only

number it DOESN’T work for is 1. If you feed the zeta function 1, it just

burps and says: “Sorry, can’t do that one.”

If you give Zeta a certain number and Zeta sends back zero, the number you

gave it is WAY special & you should write it down immediately & keep it in a

safe place.

A guy in Germany, name of Sebastian Wedeniwski, has collected 100 billion of

those special numbers. They all share a certain striking property.

Unfortunately, we know that there are an infinity of the little suckers. If

you could prove, by pure mathematics, that EVERY ONE OF THEM has the

striking property that Herr Wedeniwski’s 100 billion have, you’d win a

million-dollar prize.

I promise I shall never mention any of this again on The Corner.


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