February 15, 2013

Largest prime yet found

I know I'm late at blogging about this but here goes anyway. Curtis Cooper at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg has found the largest prime number yet.

(He hasn't found the largest prime as there is no such thing -- he's just found a new prime that is larger than any other primes people have found.)

It is a Mersenne prime, which means it is of the form 2P − 1, where P itself is prime. The one Cooper found is 257,885,161 − 1, and it has 17 million digits!!

 So no, I'm not going to type it out here! Writing it in the form 257,885,161 − 1 is way handier, isn't it? Shows us how important exponents are. So, this new prime is 2 multiplied by itself 57,885,161 times, and then you subtract 1.

This is what Cooper himself says about the hunt for new primes:

"Every time I find one it is incredible," Cooper said. "I kind of consider it like climbing Mount Everest or finding a really rare diamond or landing somebody on the moon. It's an accomplishment. It's a scientific feat."

Read more:  Missouri researchers ID largest prime number yet. If you wish to see the number, you can download a text file of it here.
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