Re: Interesting Article

Chuck Biehl (
Sat, 28 Jun 1997 11:50:04 -0400

Nancy Shields wrote:
> Hi! The Texas Education Network (TENET) has *finally* upgraded itself
> so that teachers can get graphics, Netscape, etc. on the computers at
> home. I am writing you all for the first time on Netscape. I just
> clicked on the link Pat had in his email on autism and went to the
> WAshington Post article, pictures and all. This is exciting! I just
> had to communicate with all of you at dimacs my excitement. Now to find
> time to visit the puzzle of the week and all of the neat web sites you
> all have shown!
> On another note. With the movie Contact, based on the book by Sagan,
> coming out in July, I decided I wanted to read the book. Now that I am
> about a third of the way through it, I think I read it once, it seems
> familiar. My question is, the message from space is sent via series of
> prime numbers. In the book, on page 86, he states, "No even number is
> prime." Later on the same page he says "just the first few hundred
> prime numbers in order, a cycling back to the beginning and again the
> simple binary arithmetic representations: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17,
> 19, 23, 29, 31 . . ." I think (but with Carl Sagan evidently stating
> something else, I feel unsure) that 2 (an even number (is prime), and
> that in the long list of primes, that he should not have listed 1--which
> is neither prime nor composite. Have any of you read this book, and if
> so, what do you think about these statements? (The book is pretty good,
> by the way, if you haven't read it. I hope the movie isn't totally
> different, as in the case of The Lost World!)
> Signing off from Netscape (YAY)
> Nancy Shields
> Beeville, Texas '96
I read this book when it first came out, and loved it. In fact, i still
tell my students the story on Pi Day about the ending in which... (nah,
I can't tell it here. Give everybody a chance to read it before the
movie slights the math, same as Jurassic Park did.)


L. Charles (Chuck) Biehl
The Charter School of Wilmington
(v)302-651-2727  (f)302-652-1246