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This is no longer the largest known prime.
Click
here for information on and new records. 
How do you slay a giant? One way is to get a very big gun. Most of the
previous record primes
were found just that wayby the supercomputers of their day armed with
the LucasLehmer
test.
Another way is to get together with several hundred friends and assault
the giant as a team. Recently the GIMPS
(Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) project did just that! On 13 November
1996 Joel
Armengaud discovered the new Mersenne
prime 2^{1398269}1. He did this by using George
Woltman's free implementation
of the LucasLehmer
test and by working together with over 700
other individuals scattered across the Internet.
And what a giant they slew! This 420921 digit number (formed by multiplying
two by itself 1398268 times, then subtracting one) is now the largest
known prime. It is also the 35th
known Mersenne prime, and so comes paired with the 35th known perfect
number. There are still infinitely
many more giants left to slay, so why not surf over to Woltman's
GIMPS site and join the search for the next record prime?
For more information click on one of the following:
