The latest largest prime number

Do you want to guess how many digits the latest largest prime number has? For reference:

  • a million has seven digits (1,000,000)
  • a decillion has 34 digits (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)
  • a googol has 101 digits (you get the idea)

So, how many digits in the largest known prime number? The answer is seventeen million, four hundred and twenty-five thousand, one hundred and seventy digits.

Just so we’re clear, it’s not the number 17,425,170. No, it’s a number with that many digits, and therefore impossible to write out in this environment. For those that are interested and understand, it can be written as 257,885,161 – 1.


How big is that? That’s grains of sand in the desert big. That’s space big. That’s the odds of me bedding Mila Kunis big. That’s so big, 99% of humans actually can’t imagine it. Which begs the question:

Why bother?

A $3000 finder’s fee

I like $3000 as much as the next guy, but it took 39 days for a computer just to do the calculations, and Pythagoras only knows how many months it took for men to set it up. It all probably cost more than $3000.

If not fortune, then fame

The guy who discovered this latest prime is called Curtis Cooper. This is the third time he (and his University of Central Missouri) has discovered a new largest prime.

Sure, he has a Wikipedia page, but I hadn’t heard of him, you haven’t heard of him, and Mila Kunis almost certainly hasn’t heard of him.

So, just because…

And you know what, that’s good enough for me.


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