There are 17 million digits in the largest prime number we know of, so far. Its discovery is part of an ongoing distributed computing project aimed at exposing the existence of ever larger prime numbers, largely because prime numbers are there — flagrantly going around, only being divisible by themselves and the number 1. We'll show them, won't we? The Electronic Frontier Foundation foundation, for instance, is currently offering a $150,000 bounty for the first folks to bring in a 100-million-digit prime.

14 Responses to “Another prime number down, infinity to go”

  1. awjt says:

    New rule: it should be against the law, and you spend time thinking about it in the Hague, to calculate any large prime without knowing all the primes that come before it.  You cannot skip ahead.

  2. Jake0748 says:

    I love the EFF. But what reason could they possibly have for offering money for a new prime number?   Shouldn’t they be using that dough to fight the good copyfight?

    • Asmodeus says:

      Prime numbers are used in cryptography, so the EFF would use that to help with internet privacy.

      • BillStewart2012 says:

        Mersenne primes aren’t particularly useful for cryptography.  There aren’t very many of them, and they’ve got special forms which make them easy to find but might interfere with cryptographic use.  On the other hand, they’re a good problem to use for developing tools for large distributed computations, and potentially more practical than looking for Space Aliens.

    • bucaneer says:

      It’s a matter of collateral benefit, I think. Calculating a 100 million digit prime would require a breakthrough in computing power, algorithm design or mathematical theory, all of which would most probably find some good wider use. See also: indirect benefits of space race.

    • cjporkchop says:

      “Prize money comes from a special donation provided by an individual EFF supporter, earmarked specifically for this project. Prize money does NOT come from EFF membership dues, corporate or foundation grants, or other general EFF funds.”

  3. jimkirk says:

    Whenever someone tells me to “pick a number, any number”, I just start rattling off digit until they get bored/aggravated and usually ask me to stop.

  4. Andrew Pautz says:

    Disclaimer: You’ll choke your browser.

    You can see the number fully written out (base-10) here:

  5. Marc Montoya says:

    i got it right here, but i cant put it here due to space and time constraints. nor can i tell you ’cause of space and time constraints. sigh

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