For Those Who Thought Their Math Teachers Were Evil


Belphegor's Prime

If math really isn’t your thing, it might not take a lot of convincing for you to believe your math teacher was an agent of evil. If you were forced to identify prime numbers long enough, you might actually come up with some reasonable proof to support that proposition.

Belphegor’s Prime is the name given to an actual prime number. Written out, the number is 1,000,000,000,000,066,600,000,000,000,001. What is so sinister about this? Consider that it is the number 1, followed by 13 (a commonly-accepted unlucky number) zeroes, followed by 666 (the number of the Beast, as identified in Revelation 13:18), followed by another 13 zeroes, and ending with the number 1.

According to author, mathematician, and “father” of Belphegor’s Prime, Cliff Pickover, the infernal number was actually first discovered by prime number hunter Harvey Dubner, who determined that it was part of a sequence. The set of primes could be reached by altering the number of zeroes on either side of the 666 to appropriate amounts. This means that 16,661, with no zeroes at all, is also a prime number. The next time a similar palindromic number becomes prime is when you have 13 zeros (Belphegor’s Prime), then again when you have 42 zeros. This sequence exists when using the numbers 0, 13, 42, 506, 608, 2472, and 2623.

The number gets its name from Belphegor, the name given to the demon of sloth in Peter Binsfield’s 1589 publication dealing with the seven deadly sins.

Lest you flee mathematics with the impression that it is all under demonic control, it should be noted that 1,000,000,000,000,077,700,000,000,000,001 is also a prime number, and 777 has traditionally been recognized as a number associated with Heaven.

 

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