Saturday, September 27, 2008

God Love the Math Geeks

Using a network of 75 computers running a Windows XP program, a group of mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a thirteen-million-digit prime number. It is the 46th known Mersenne Prime, named after the 17th-century French scholar and Minim Friar Fr. Marin Mersenne, who came up with a partial list of these apparently remarkable numbers. This discovery qualifies the UCLA group for a prize of $100,000.00 offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to the first discoverer of a Mersenne Prime exceeding ten million digits.

This is the first I have ever heard of Mersenne Primes, and after trying to find out exactly what they are, I feel like I know even less about them now than I did before they intruded upon my blissful ignorance. My particular brand of geekery runs along other than mathematical lines, so I just simply do not get what Mersenne Primes are -- other than that it is unknown whether there is an infinite number of Mersenne Primes.

But since greater minds than mine think Mersenne Primes are worth at least a 75-computer network and a $100,000.00 prize, I take it they are something special. I therefore offer my congratulations to the UCLA team.

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