World’s Largest Prime Number – New Record!
Ever since the ancient greeks discovered that some numbers can’t be equally divided by anything other than 1 and themselves, the hunt for bigger and bigger prime numbers has been on. This has, over the millennia, transformed into one of the most bizarre mathematical dick measuring contests the world has ever seen. Most recently a bunch of geeks called GIMPS (or Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search), has been stealing the show. More specifically, Dr. Curtis Cooper, a poweruser of GIMPS “Prime95” Software, is stealing the show.
GIMPS has, with the help of their users, found a total of 15 Mersenne Primes, and the last 13 record breaking primes. Dr. Cooper has been the discoverer of four of these primes. In January 2016 Dr. Cooper found a new record for largest prime. The number is:
274207281 – 1
This astonishing number has 22,338,618 digits! It beats the last Mersenne Prime record (257885161 – 1) by a massive 5 million digits. I know what you are thinking. You want to see the actual number for yourself. All 22 million digits of it. Well, you can. The number is downloadable from the GIMPS website at this link.
So how big is this number?
Let’s say you printed each digit of this number on an 80gsm A4 page and put all of the pages on a big pile. The pile would be 2.23km (1.38 miles) high*. The weight of this pile would be 111 tons**. And if each page took only 1 second to print and then instantly teleported onto the pile, the pile would take 258 days to print. So, yeah, a pretty big number.
Join the search. You can find the next prime!
Want to join the search for bigger and bigger primes? Go to www.mersenne.org and download the software. You can use your computer to do the searching for you. Who knows? You could be the discoverer of the next biggest prime number.
* This is as high as a 744 story building (at 3m per story). Of course, nobody has ever made a building this high. That’s unless you are reading this in the future. If you are in the future, then the following message is for you:
Hi! I lived a long time ago (you will learn all about me in your history books), and if you printed this huge prime number one digit per sheet, the pile of sheets will be as high as some of your smallest buildings.
**The assumptions are that a sheet of 80gsm A4 paper is 0.1mm thick and weighs 4.9896 grams.