Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I know Sheldon is excited!

Prime numbers, which can only be divisible by themselves, are presumably infinite. However, the higher you count, the fewer and farther between prime numbers are. 

The previous highest known prime number held the record for nearly three years. On January 25, 2013, 2 to the power of 57,885,161 minus 1, a figure 17,425,170 digits long, was announced by Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, GIMPS has just announced a new record. The new highest known prime number is 2 to the power of 74,207,281 minus 1, and it clocks in at 22,338,618 digits. You can download a 10.2MB zip file of the number here. (I don't recommend it, but you can if you wish.)

Curtis Cooper of the University of Central Missouri volunteered the computer and oversaw the calculation. It is the fourth record for Cooper, who volunteers the most CPU time for the GIMPS project. Scott Kurowski and Aaron Blosser of GIMPS also share credit for the discovery.

I don't know if my favorite fictional Cooper, Sheldon, will claim to be a cousin of Curtis, but I am sure Sheldon will be mightily pleased by the news. I expect an upcoming episode of Big Bang Theory to work this into the story somewhere. 

As for the illustration, it is a visual pun worthy of Dr. Cooper himself -- the highest known prime must be the optimus prime, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On our latest road trip my family was coming up with examples of paradoxes.
Some types of infinite are infinitely bigger than other types.