Unsuspectingly you look at the design with all those little squares. The pattern seems random created from the center. There are the most squares and flared out to the borders there are less squares. It isn’t a free design at all; the design of squares represents primes. Each square is a prime number, each prime number appears eight times in the napkin. Ask your guests to find out where the primes 3, 17, 173 or even 1013 are placed in the napkin.
The short and simple explanation: 17 = 4 x 4 + 1 x 1
The Dutch mathematician Balthasar van der Pol created in 1945 this abstract looking design, using the primes of the 18th Century mathematician and astronomer Gauss. The Gaussian primes appear as the sum of the squares of two numbers. Prime 17, for example, is the sum of 4 x 4 + 1 x 1. Or prime 173 is the sum of 13 x 13 + 2 x 2. These primes are positioned from the origin 0 at the centre of the cloth, along the axes numbered from 1 to 39 on the top, the bottom, the left and the right. The little square for prime 17 thus appears on the crossing of axes 4 and 1. The little square for prime 173 is of course on axes 13 and 2. Each prime number appears 8 times in the cloth.
The design was considered to be so unique that the best Dutch linen weaver Van Dissel used it to weave in a cloth. It became well-known throughout the world and even Einstein received one and sent a thank-you letter to the manufacturer.
Sanny de Zoete was inspired by the pattern and has taken this beautiful cloth into production again.
The cloth is woven of pure linen (warp) with pure cotton (weft). The size is 65 x 65 cm. Available in trendy colors turquoise, taupe and graphite.