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UCLA Finds New Prime Number

Mathematicians at UCLA found a new Mersenne prime number. It is a 13-million digit number, the 46th Mersenne prime number, and the eighth prime number discovered at the school according to the the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the new number was discovered on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP and verified on a different computer. The discovery makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize offered by the Electric Frontier Foundation, which would be awarded once the number is published. The publish time is likely to be next year. The prize money was offered for anyone who found a prime number with 10 million digits or greater. The organization supports individual rights on the internet.

Besides function like a regular prime number – which a number is only divisible by itself and one – Mersenne prime numbers are written as 2P-1. The new P found is 43,112,609.

UCLA’s Edson Smith, leader of the search for the number, says they are already searching for the next number.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the odds of finding the next Merseene prime number are about 1 in 150,000 numbers. But this doesn’t deter a school which has now found a total of eight prime numbers. The discoveries started back in 1952 when Raphael Robinson, a mathematician, found five using a digital computer. The numbers, which were the the 13th through 17th Mersenne prime numbers, were the first prime numbers discovered in over 75 years. Then in 1961 Alexander Hurwitz found two more this time using an IBM 7090 mainframe. This newest prime number was discovered on Aug. 23 on a Dell Optiplex 745 running Windows XP. However, UCLA will not receive all $100,000 of the prize money. They school receives half of it, while a quarter of it will go to charity, and the other quarter go to The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search participants and the organization itself.