“Mathematicians at the University of California, Los Angeles have discovered a 13 million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $US100,000 prize.

The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.”

This number would be a 13mb .txt file on your computer.

From the ABC:

“Most people in Queensland don’t know what a prime number is”

…after SEVEN straight callers failed to answer the question in the afternoon quiz.

For those of you who forget:

“Primes are numbers like three, seven and 11 that are divisible by only two whole positive numbers: themselves and one.”

## Comments

It’s news like this that makes this little ex-mathematician’s heart skip!

But why did they mention the operating system the computer was using? Was it a bit of an ad for people to join in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search?

And for the nay-sayers out there, this kind of ‘discovery’ is really important – actually a significant part of our culture depends on knowing what really large prime numbers are. It’s what makes internet banking possible.