As I have told you in the past, one of the very few real accomplishments during my doctoral work (besides the actual research that helped biologists with their work on in situ
hybridization) was a small and quite precious collection of humorous quips. Some of them were phrased by others, and I collected them; some of them were my own. One which seemed to phrase itself was the very nifty insight linking mathematics and espionage - that is, work in the dull realm of national security/top-secret/classified information - and the more exciting and dangerous world of integers and the operators which manipulate them... Yes, it is a thrill to recall the antics which went on in that battle-ground where I spent so much time - the battle-ground of applied and theoretical mathematics. We who study permutations liked to call it "Ah, Almost Alone" - and our battle there came to be enshrined in one famous line:
Spies Like Big Prime Numbers.
No, I never had a tee-shirt with those words... besides, it wouldn't do to advertise such a wonderful truth. Of course now that I know some really big primes like 1 000 000 000 039, I still don't feel any interest in being a spy, or having any dealings with spies. And despite my recent work on primes, which I performed just to keep my computer busy while I am doing other things, the market for big primes is not what it used to be.
But such clandestine dealings continue to creep into my world... at least my fictional world, which is a lot more fun, and a lot more exciting. Actually from what I hear about the real world, it's not the spies who like big primes any more, but bankers. It's hard to get very excited about a fat guy in a vest, sitting at a desk and murmuring yet another fifty-digit prime, which is probably his account balance, and not his secret id code. Ah well. But then that's why God invented Quayment, and Rutevia, and Mbognu, and all those other distant places which make our world so interesting.
Recently, due to the death of F. Ralston Ludlow, a famous wealthy bibliophile, I happened to learn of a very curious secret organization... I am not quite sure what their real name is, but I have managed to acquire a screen-shot of their logo:
As such organizations go, these people seem to be comparatively benign... yet their head - or perhaps I ought to call him their FACE, since all we've ever seen of him is his face, a young, handsome face that smiles. Ahem. As I was saying, their head (or face) certainly seems to have all the sinister attributes of the traditional leader of YABSSO - Yet Another Big Sinister Secret Organization... except of course for the fact that as yet we've only seen his face. It's quite creepy.
We must consider ourselves warned. Beware of this group "IC"! Beware of that laughing face. We don't know what he wants, or why, so let's assume the worst anyway.
I'm sure he
likes big prime numbers...