Richard Evan Schwartz

1-100 Factored: Information

Poster Explanation

The numbers 2,3,4,5,6,... can be classified into two types,
primes and composites. A composite is a number which
can be expressed as the product of two smaller numbers
on the list. For instance, 6 and 18 are composites because
6=2 x 3 and 18=3 x 6. A prime is a number which is not
composite. The first few primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19.
Every composite can be written as the product of two or
more primes. For instance, 120=2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 5.
Writing a composite in this way is called factoring it.

The poster illustrates the idea of factoring through the use
of cartoon characters. Each prime-numbered block in the
poster shows a cartoon character who has some feature
related to that prime. For instance, the girl in block-7 has
a 7-sided head. Sometimes the relation between the
character and the number is a bit hard to find, as in
block-19. (In this block the green face has 19 sides, 6
on the outside and 13 more around the eyes.) Each
composite numbered block shows a scene involving the
characters corresponding to the primes which occur
when the composite is factored. For instance, block-14
shows the girl from block-7 munching on the bee from
block-2, because 14=2 x 7. The cartoon characters are
sometimes drawn differently in different squares; this
is part of the fun and challenge of the poster.

publication history

  • The poster was one of the finalists in the 2003 N.S.F.
    Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

  • The poster appeared in print, in Joy Hakim's book
    The story of science (Smithsonian Books, 2004)