New Largest Known Prime Number Discovered!

Published on Sunday, February 10, 2013 in , ,

Dr. Zimbu's largest prime number graphThe biggest news in math this week is, of course, the new discovery of the largest known prime number.

Whenever math makes the news like this, many people's eyes glaze over and they say things like, "So what?" Well, let's take a look at what this discovery can actually mean.

There's few better places to review the basics of prime numbers than betterexplained.com. It's a short article, so take the time to go over it all.

Marcus du Sautoy, whom you probably know from his Story of Maths documentary, vividly describes primes as being the atoms of mathematics in the following interview:

If you want to learn more about this, you can see his full 66-minute Music of the Primes lecture on YouTube, or read his book of the same name.

The prime number that everyone is talking about this week is a special type of prime known as a Mersenne prime (note the connection to perfect numbers), and is only the 48th one ever discovered. To wrap this post up, here's the numberphile video on the 48th Mersenne prime itself:

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