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A New Number

math problem

News That Counts

A new number was discovered by a team of German mathematicians in January of this year. The previously unknown integer lies in the relatively unexplored region between the numbers 88,000,002,999 and 88,000,003,000. This unexpected integer has been provisionally named "S," for "Surprise," until the mathematical community has determined its exact location and value.

The existence of undiscovered whole numbers in the space between known integers has long been recognized as a possibility, according to theoretical mathematician and team leader Angela Zifferling at the Institute for Polynomial Advance in Töttingen, Germany.

Crunching Numbers

It is largely because we are only used to counting up to a thousand or so in our everyday lives that we fail to notice the presence of so-called "inter-integral" numbers and other strange phenomena that lie in the incredibly distant regions of the number line.

As Zifferling explains: "It's as if you only made observations from here to the moon, and concluded that there isn't anything much in outer space. We really have no idea what may exist in the remoter regions of the number line, because the simple fact is that the area beyond around one hundred billion is still almost completely unexplored."

If confirmed, the existence of number S would make calculations involving numbers in its region much more difficult, as it will probably be found to be exerting a kind of pressure on the whole numbers on either side of it in order to fit in. Mathematicians refer to this pressure as "integral crowding," and say that it may increasingly be a problem as we move farther and farther from zero.

NOTE: April Fool's Day





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