This is a story about prime numbers and the man who took a giant step toward solving a puzzle that has vexed mathematicians for centuries. That man, Yitang "Tom" Zhang, was exiled to the Chinese countryside during Mao's Cultural Revolution as a teen and forced to quit his studies and perform hard labor. Later, after receiving advanced degrees in China and the US, he struggled to find an academic position and at one point worked behind the counter at a Subway sandwich shop.
"There's nothing wrong with working at a Subway, but normally these proofs, these breakthroughs, are achieved by those that are working at Princeton, Harvard, these kind of really elite places," Tony Padilla, a physics professor at the UK's University of Nottingham, says in the Numberphile podcast below. "And now we've got somebody who's literally come of nowhere, that no one expected to produce this kind of results, and has done something impressive that many great minds were unable to do." … Read more