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another sum exlusive

Issue 17 - Jan 2006

Prime Record

Prime Record

On 15th December 2005, two professors at Central Missouri University in the USA stuck mathematic gold when they found the largest prime number yet discovered.

The number they discovered
( 2 30,402,457 -1) is known as a Mersenne number (named after Marin Mersenne, the 16 th century monk and mathematician who discovered a formula used to search for primes ) which is a number of the form 2 p -1, where p is prime.

For over 2000 years mathematicians have known that there are a possibly infinite number of possible primes, but finding them is no easy task.

Dr Curtis Cooper and Dr Steven Boone, both members of the voluntary prime number research group GIMPS (or Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) used 700 synchronised PC computers to search for the new largest prime. These 700, only a fraction of the tens of thousands of computers who donate processing power towards the GIMPS' search for prime numbers. It just so happens that it was one of their 700 that hit the prime number jackpot.

Cooper and Boones's prime is the 43rd Mersenne prime ever found, and only the ninth Mersenne prime found by the GIMPS project.

They will no doubt be delighted to get their names in the record books, but as the new discovery has only 9,152,052 digits, it narrowly missed the $100,000 Electronic Frontier Foundation award for the first prime with over 10 million digits.

Better luck next time boys!

Source Material:
Volunteers discover new largest prime an article by Marianne Freiberger for + Plus Magazine.


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