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A Colbert number is any megaprime whose discovery contributes to the long sought-after proof that k = 78557 is the smallest Sierpinski number. These are whimsically named after Stephen T. Colbert, the American comedian, satirist, actor and writer. There are currently only five known Colbert Numbers:
Waclaw Sierpinski used modular covers to prove there were infinitely many odd integers k for which k.2n+1 are composite for all n > 1. It has been conjectured that 78557 is the smallest, but to prove that requires a truly massive amount of computation--we must find primes of the form k2.n+1 for all small k values. Most of those primes were easily found, but the final six (below), have so far defied all attempts.
This search has been going on for over four decades! The primes above were found by the dramatically successful project Seventeen or Bust. Their name came from the fact that there were 17 primes left to find when they began. Due to their work, there are now just six:
10223.2???+1, 21181.2???+1, 22699.2???+1, 24737.2???+1, 55459.2???+1, 67607.2???+1
When such primes are found (and we expect they will be), these will all be Colbert numbers. It is likely that the largest of these will be larger than the largest currently known prime.
See Also: SierpinskiNumber
Related pages (outside of this work)