by Nate Wooley | February 6, 2013 12:45 pm
A Missouri researcher has calculated the largest prime number — which is divisible only by itself and one — yet.
It was discovered by Curtis Cooper at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, reports New Scientist. Cooper used the online Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, which distributed the calculations across hundreds or thousands of computers using the Internet, to perform the calculation.
The new number contains 17,425,170 digits. That’s enough to fill 4,978 singled-spaced pages or 124,465 tweets. It’s the first new prime number discovered in four years.
There’s no real advantage to finding the largest prime. Chris Caldwell of the University of Tennessee, who maintains a list of the largest known primes, told New Scientist: “It’s sort of like finding a diamond. For some reason people decide they like diamonds and so they have a value. People like these large primes and so they also have a value.”
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