Date: Jan 6, 2012 10:27 AM
Author: Kent Holing
Subject: 2 simple? questions and proposed answers
I often get the following two questions from my non-mathematician friends.
Q1: Why is 1 not a prime? (It divides only 1 and itself.)
Q2: For a, b positive integers (say), why is (-a)(-b) = ab?
I could answer as follows (but with not exactly good success):
Answer to Q1:
If 1 is considered (defined) as a prime, then the fundamenal theorem of arithmetic is not true; and we mathematicians do not like that! Laymen response: !???
Answer to Q2: If not, the distributive law is not true, and we mathematicians do not like that either! Laymen response: !???
Do we have any better answers for our laymen friends?