It’s mathematicians’ idea of an arms race: the unending quest to find the largest prime number. Like an archaeological expedition, a new number has taken top honors as the longest — and it’s over 17 million digits long.
Curtis Cooper, a researcher at the University of Central Missouri, reportedly spent four years searching for the new prime number. And in late January, his quest was confirmed. Behold the new longest prime number in the world: 257,885,161 – 1.
The new discovery, at 17,425,170 digits, crushes the 2008 record number of 12,978,189 digits. Cooper is something of a legend when it comes to prime-number discovery: this is the third one found by him and his team.
Prime numbers are numbers that can only be divided by themselves and 1, with the first-appearing ones being 2,3,5,7 and 11. This new king of primes is also a member of a rare collection known as the Mersenne primes. Named after their discoverer Marin Mersenne, a 17th century French monk, the numbers are all expressed as 2 raised to the power of “P” minus 1, of which P is also a prime. The newly identified number is the 48th known Mersenne prime.
There is much more to this story from Time, to read about it CLICK HERE.