Largest prime number found and it’s 17,425,170 digits long

700_9887c069caf427e95614cb07b1904e42The largest prime number has been discovered — and it’s 17,425,170 digits long. The new prime number crushes the last one discovered in 2008, which was a paltry 12,978,189 digits long.

Science news from NBCNews.com

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The network, called the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) harnesses about 360,000 processors operating at 150 trillion calculations per second. This is the third prime number discovered by Cooper.

“It’s analogous to climbing Mount Everest,” said George Woltman, the retired, Orlando, Fla.-based computer scientist who created GIMPS. “People enjoy it for the challenge of the discovery of finding something that’s never been known before.”

In addition, the number is the 48th example of a rare class of primes called Mersenne Primes. Mersenne primes take the form of 2 raised to the power of a prime number minus 1. Since they were first described by French monk Marin Mersenne 350 years ago, only 48 of these elusive numbers have been found, including the most recent discovery.

( via nbcnews.com )