06 July 2008

Nomenclature clash

Prime Numbers for June 29 to July 5, from today's New York Times. (I don't know if this is a weekly thing; it could be but I don't recall seeing it before.)

The numbers are 46, 62000, 30, 18%, and 30000; each is important to some news story from this week. (If you want to get technical, 62000 and 30000 are approximations.)

Presumably they mean "prime" in the sense of "important". Or in the sense of "composite", but that would be a bit perverse.


Anonymous said...

Or worse, in the sense of "even." It's not like any of these are fake primes.

misha said...

There used to be a regular feature in the same format: the news and behind the news. Will it be the prime numbers and behind the prime numbers from now on? If so,welcome to another annoying linguistic overloading. If the name sticks, this meaning of a prime number as a number of primary importance may become more popular and widely accepted than its mathematical meaning. Vectors and homology in biology come to mind.

boo said...

'Prime' as in that's the first word that came into the writer/editor's tiny little head. Possibly. God plays dice. Very cheeky. ;)