Prime Nubmers Are Language of the Universe
It is often said that human civilization started with the invention of languages, first spoken languages, then written languages. With the advent of technologies like paper, the written languages then could resist the amnesia of time, allowing knowledge to pass through generations much easier.
Yet, Egyptian hieroglyphs were almost lost save for the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, and Mayan hieroglyphs were lost after the burning of Mayan books by the Spanish conquistadores. Despite written languages’ amazing resistance to time’s power of decay, the resistance is still relatively fragile.
About 400 years ago, Galileo already realized that our sciences of the universe is written in the language of mathematics. Prime numbers, as one of the most basic concepts of Arithmetics, is then a basic language of the universe. When civilizations develop, such basic universal language is bound to be rediscovered time and time again.
Thousands of years ago, different human civilizations seem to have developed elements of the positional numeral systems independently. By the time of Euclid more than 2000 years ago, the concept of prime numbers and their infinitude were already well recorded. Given our own recorded history of human civilizations, independent discovery and rediscoveries of the language of primes seem all part of the natural evolution of civilizations.
Mathematical constructs such as prime numbers, certainly appear to be existing not only objectively, but also beyond the grasp of time. In our physical world, we often observe gold as one of the most enduring material. Yet, gold still loses to time gradually, as in the gold fingers of computer parts, albeit slowly. When we examine numbers and primes, one can certainly argue that their existence is eternal and entirely outside the realm of time, with absolutely no decay and no change. (edited)
10 years ago, Primecoin managed to start using primes as the core of a proof-of-work consensus algorithm, replacing the hashcash system used by Bitcoin. Hash function is a relatively more recent algorithmic development, and is constantly evolving. For example, we have already seen several generations of hash functions in wide use, md5, sha1, then sha2/sha256 used by Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin’s birth, many newer generations of hash functions are in public use as well. Hash functions go out of fashion due to an adversarial process where security is constantly evolving. Thus, it’s akin to the human languages that are relatively shortlived. Hashcash is not only costly to upgrade, but also easy to fall prey to the rule of time.
On the other hand, Primecoin’s concensus is based upon the eternity of primes. It not only costs less to maintain, but also provides a powerful universal language for civilizations to penetrate the fog of the eons.
Happy 10th Anniversary to Primecoin Community!