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Cicadas spend 7, 13, or 17 years, depending on the species, underground before emerging as adults for the final weeks of their lives.

Recently, Goles et al. investigated the selective forces that might have led to these prime-number life cycles. They produced spatiotemporal simulations of predator-prey cycles using cellular automata to yield periodicities of 13 and 17, indicating the selective optima for cicadas escaping predators. In this unexpected alliance of biology and number theory, the results suggest that these models have properties that favor the generation of prime numbers. -- AMS

Complexity 6, 33 (2001).

Volume 293, Number 5528, Issue of 13 Jul 2001, p. 177.
Copyright 2001 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.

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