Did anyone see the Horizon programme on Wednesday with Alan Davies and Marcus Du Sautoy?
For the first five minutes I thought it was going to be one of those oooh look how exciting maths is, er, but actually it's really boring-type programmes. "I know loads of people that hate maths and think it's really boring, but I want to show Alan, show everyone in fact, that it's a wonderful, exciting subject," said Du Sautoy, about 30 seconds in. Which made me terribly suspicious.
And honestly, despite being a scientist and self-confessed geek, maths is not something that has ever pushed my buttons. (I wasn't one of those people who did maths A-Level for fun; I did it because it went with biology and chemistry quite well - and I wasn't really thinking when I handed in the form. I was 16 for Christ's sake).
Anyway, after 15 minutes, Mr Hayley and I were absolutely hooked. The pairing of cynical Davies with the bouncy, infectiously enthusiastic and ever-so-slightly camp Du Sautoy was genius. But what really sealed the deal was the prime numbers...
Oh those prime numbers. They'll be the end of us.
So this German guy called Bernhard Riemann apparently made a graph of prime numbers. It looks a bit like this:
Which makes sense (hoorah!) 'cause there are loads of small prime numbers (on the left - 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc etc) and they occur less often as you go higher.
BUT, the really freaky thing is this... according to Du Sautoy, the same distribution pattern has popped up all over the place, including in the distribution of electrons in uranium, in bus arrival times in a little known Mexican city and - wait for it - the distribution of parked cars in modern day London. And it was at this point that Mr Hayley and I practically jumped out of our seats. "WHAT?"
And THEN, Du Sautoy proceeded to show that if you take a quartz sphere hooked up to an oscilloscope and hit it with a ball bearing, the electrical signal you get also matches this pattern. Sorry, but. No way.
Does everyone know this? Why aren't we all running around looking for the solution? Surely this makes prime numbers the answer to life, the universe and everything? Wait, no, that's 42. >> 19 days left to watch on iPlayer - do it!