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May 14th
11:15 PM
The Cicada’s Love Affair With Prime Numbers
Patrick Di Justo  |  New Yorker »

Since most predators have a two-to-ten-year population cycle, [any] twelve-year cicadas would be a feast for any predator with a two-, three-, four-, or six-year cycle. By this reasoning, any cicada with a development span that is easily divisible by the smaller numbers of a predator’s population cycle is vulnerable.
Prime numbers, however, can only be divided by themselves and one; they cannot be evenly divided into smaller integers. Cicadas that emerge at prime-numbered year intervals, like the seventeen-year Brood II set to swarm the East Coast, would find themselves relatively immune to predator population cycles, since it is mathematically unlikely for a short-cycled predator to exist on the same cycle. In [Stephen J.] Gould’s example, a cicada that emerges every seventeen years and has a predator with a five-year life cycle will only face a peak predator population once every eighty-five (5 x 17) years, giving it an enormous advantage over less well-adapted cicadas.
To test this hypothesis, researchers from Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas used a computer simulation, very similar to John Conway’s Game of Life, in which simulated cicadas and predators battled it out in a hundred-by-hundred-cell matrix. They found exactly what Gould had suggested: cicadas with a prime-numbered life cycle had the most successful evolutionary strategy. If we discount those cicadas with life cycles of ten years or fewer (as being too close to predator life cycles), we find that the most successful emergence rates for cyber cicadas are thirteen and seventeen years—precisely what we find in the wild.  >continue<

'Course, the prime number strategy has been hypothesized to aid in overwhelming GOP obstructionism as well ;p

The Cicada’s Love Affair With Prime Numbers

Patrick Di Justo  |  New Yorker »

Since most predators have a two-to-ten-year population cycle, [any] twelve-year cicadas would be a feast for any predator with a two-, three-, four-, or six-year cycle. By this reasoning, any cicada with a development span that is easily divisible by the smaller numbers of a predator’s population cycle is vulnerable.

Prime numbers, however, can only be divided by themselves and one; they cannot be evenly divided into smaller integers. Cicadas that emerge at prime-numbered year intervals, like the seventeen-year Brood II set to swarm the East Coast, would find themselves relatively immune to predator population cycles, since it is mathematically unlikely for a short-cycled predator to exist on the same cycle. In [Stephen J.] Gould’s example, a cicada that emerges every seventeen years and has a predator with a five-year life cycle will only face a peak predator population once every eighty-five (5 x 17) years, giving it an enormous advantage over less well-adapted cicadas.

To test this hypothesis, researchers from Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas used a computer simulation, very similar to John Conway’s Game of Life, in which simulated cicadas and predators battled it out in a hundred-by-hundred-cell matrix. They found exactly what Gould had suggested: cicadas with a prime-numbered life cycle had the most successful evolutionary strategy. If we discount those cicadas with life cycles of ten years or fewer (as being too close to predator life cycles), we find that the most successful emergence rates for cyber cicadas are thirteen and seventeen years—precisely what we find in the wild.  >continue<

'Course, the prime number strategy has been hypothesized to aid in overwhelming GOP obstructionism as well ;p

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    I love cicadas and I also love math this is music to me
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