## Who Wants to Be a Mathematician : Barry Mazur Gives Arnold Ross Lecture
On November 1, more than 300 Massachusetts high school students and their teachers filled the Museum of Science auditorium to hear the 2007 Arnold Ross Lecture by
Mazur introduced the topic of prime numbers with a story from The rest of the lecture dealt with the distribution of the primes, mostly with counting the number of primes up to a given number - for example, the number of primes less than 1000. On its face this is a discrete problem, but Mazur noted that continuous functions associated with Gauss and Riemann give very good approximations to the number of primes below a certain threshold and showed graphs (below) that supported this claim. In the graph immediately below, the continuous approximations are so close to the function that gives the actual number of primes (in blue), that they are indistinguishable from it. Above: Number of primes up to Above: One of Riemann's functions (blue) approximating the number of primes (in red). (Graph by William Stein, courtesy of Barry Mazur.)
Two very exciting games of **Eli Barrows**, Waring High School**John Avitable**, Hanover High School**Kristen Flannery**, Notre Dame Academy**Alex Bishop**, St. Mark's School- Mike Breen, AMS, host of
*Who Wants to Be a Mathematician* **Eric Holmquist**, Mashpee High School**Stephen Gutz**, Danvers High School**James Kingsley**, St. John's Preparatory School**Christine Chen**, Westford Academy
Game one was very close throughout, and going into the last question, three students had a chance to win. James Kingsley was the only contestant to get the last question correct, which earned him a slot in the bonus round and a chance at $2000. Going into the last question of game two, three contestants also had a chance to win. In fact, all four contestants answered the last two questions (the most difficult questions in the game) correctly. Two of the contestants, Alex Bishop and Christine Chen, wound up tied for first place. Christine was the first to answer the tie-breaking question correctly and so she earned her way into the bonus round with James.
Here are the prizes won by all eight contestants: **TI-Nspire graphing calculator**from*Texas Instruments***Maple 11**from: Kristen Flannery and Alex Bishop*Maplesoft*by Anton, Bivens and Davis from*Calculus*: Eric Holmquist and Eli Barrows*John Wiley and Sons*from the*What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences*: John Avitable and Stephen Gutz*AMS*
The AMS thanks Lynn Baum, Museum of Science, who made arrangements for the lecture and game; sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for their continued generous support of
Find out more about the Arnold Ross Lectures and |