Largest known prime number found | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Math Trek

Largest known prime number found

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, a cooperative computing project, helps find a prime that has nearly 13 million digits.

By
11:06am, September 20, 2008

Here’s a number to savor: 243,112,609-1.

Its size is mind-boggling. With nearly 13 million digits, it makes the number of atoms in the known universe seem negligible, a mere 80 digits.

And its form is tidy and lovely: 2n-1.

But its true beauty is far grander: It is a prime number. Indeed, it is the largest prime number ever found.

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, a computing project that uses volunteers’ computers to hunt for primes, found the prime and just confirmed the discovery. It can now claim a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for being the first to find a prime number that has mor

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content