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A Tenn. Man Recently Discovered The Largest Prime Number Known To Humankind

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Illustration and Painting

erhui1979/Getty Images

This past week, a FedEx worker from Germantown, Tenn., done a vast find — and it wasn’t in any packages. John Pace found a largest primary series famous to humankind.

And that series goes on to some-more than 23 million digits.

“So it’s longer than anybody unequivocally wants to lay down and hear,” he says.

If you’re not good during math, here’s a primer: Prime numbers can usually be divided by 1 and themselves.

Pace found his primary as partial of an online common called a Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS. Pace and thousands of volunteers ran program on their personal computers crunching numbers day-in and day-out.

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Anyone can participate, we only need a computer, an internet tie and a lot of patience. Pace began his primary hunt 14 years ago.

“There was a $100,000 esteem trustworthy to anticipating a initial primary that had a 10 million number result, and we was like, ‘Well we know, I’ve got as most possibility as anybody else,’ ” he says.

Pace’s primary binds a pretension for a largest, though there are other bigger ones out there. And they’re important, generally when it comes to cryptography, internet confidence and a destiny of computing.

“When they eventually get to quantum computers, however prolonged that takes, they’ll be means to moment stream encryption in milliseconds,” Pace says. “So there’s going to be a need for intensely vast primary numbers, and I’d like to during slightest have left some bequest that I’ve helped minister something to society.”

NPR’s Isabel Dobrin constructed this story for a Web.