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Largest prime number: Still just a slice of pi

The beginning of the largest prime number known to man, discovered by Curtis Cooper. You can see the entire number -- more than 17 million digits long -- here (warning: file make take a while to load).

A mathematician has discovered the largest prime number known to man. It's got 17 million digits. And the lucky discoverer? Dr. Curtis Cooper, a professor of math and computer science at the University of Central Missouri.

He admits: "there's really no practical application" for his discovery. But he compares the search to an art form and says "in a lot of ways, mathematics and art are pretty closely related."

Due to the length of the number, he hasn't read all the digits. But he does say the first digit is a 5 and the last digit is a 1. See the full number here (warning: the page may take a while to load).

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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Sometimes binary is better.
I was looking at the sequence of 17 million decimal digit sequence and to memorize it would be a daunting task, but since the number is 2 to the power of 57,885,161 minus 1, for computers the number is quite easily remembered since in binary the number is a sequence of 57,885,161 '1's, or in hex '1' followed by 14,471,290 'F's.

Good thing that the last digit isn't a 2. I would have had an issue with the discovery.

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