Most people would have probably lost count around seven. This was, Harry knewfrom his extensive reading on logic and arithmetic, the largest number that most peoplecould visually appreciate. Put seven dots on a page, and most people can take a quickglance and declare, Seven. Switch to eight, and the majority of humanity was lost.
Prime numbers are divisible only by 1 and by themselves. They hold their place in the infinite series of natural numbers, squashed, like all numbers, between two others, but one step further than the rest. They are suspicious, solitary numbers, which is why Mattia thought they were wonderful. Sometimes he thought that they had ended up in that sequence by mistake, that they'd been trapped, like pearls strung on a necklace. Other times he suspected that they too would have preferred to be like all others, just ordinary numbers, but for some reason they couldn't do it. this second thought struck him mostly at night, in the chaotic interweaving of images that comes before sleep, when the mind is too weak to tell itself lies.
The ingenious method of expressing every possible number using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated ... The importance of this invention is more readily appreciated when one considers that it was beyod the two greatest men of antiquity, Archimedes and Apollonius.