## Tuesday, January 1, 2013

### Happy New Year 2013

One of the questions that may be asked about our new year is whether 2013 is composite or prime -- that is, whether it does or does not have factors other than 1 and the number itself.  A shortcut useful here is this test for divisibility by 3 (offered as a 5x5 square):

An integer is
divisible by
3 if and only
if the sum of its
digits is also.

And so, since 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6 (which is divisible by 3), then 2013 is divisible by 3.  Indeed, the prime factorization is 2013 = 3 x 11 x 61.

My email on this New Year's morning contained a gift -- "Digits" -- a poem that compares numbers with nature, from Virginia poet and dream specialist Joan Mazza;  she has given me permission to post it here.

Digits     by Joan Mazza

A second look at the oldest fossils
of early vertebrates and you’ll see

seven digits, or eight, not five. Devonian
tetrapods all had more than five digits

ending their primitive limbs. In evolution,
who wins the lottery of millions

of descendants in the future family
tree, instead of extinction’s blind end,

may only catch a bit of luck, not always

ourselves fortunate that our number
systems aren’t based on fourteen

phalanges, instead of base ten. Just
calculate how differently we’d measure

everything. Called a TEN, you’d
be barely average. No prize. Those

with only five would hide hands
and feet, afraid of being cast aside

by others’ pointing and whispers,
shunned, confined to reside in small

and separate villages with their kind,
to wear their narrow shoes and gloves.