Scientific American: The largest prime number yet 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.
(Culture, Distributed Computing, GIMPS)

spend millions of dollars to discover a large prime number that has no use except to gloat about how big it is.

someone explain why this is important or this will go in the useless bin of discoveries. no child in 2nd grade will ever stumble upon this 17million digits in length prime number.

like come 4 years from now when cpu speeds double im sure they will find the next one thats xx million digits long

put this effort to driving my car on water vapor...

So, it is quite complicated and I don't think I can really explain it, but Prime numbers are used in encryption; the larger the prime number, the better the encryption can be.

In brief, prime numbers are the numbers that all the other numbers are made of. That makes them pretty special and useful for factoring other numbers (which I believe is the main thing encryption does)

And so in short, because of this very large prime number, the company can have better encryption meaning more safe data.

so you see, basically they need to keep creating these numbers because of how theyre defined (divisible only my 1 and themselves)and store them so you can use to encrypt all sort things, net traffic, any kind of data and so forth.

Think of it like this: if i give you the number 39, which two primes were multiplied to make it up? 3*13 in this case. If i create a number with 1000000 digits long, i dont need to care if you know what algorithm was used to obfuscate my message, im confident that if took me a supercomputer to make that number (and im a bank, so no ordinary men can afford the computers i can) it will take you infinity to break the message and by the time youre done its not relevant anymore.

Another interesting thing about them is a theorem i think, which basically asks this:

do primes go to infinity or not?

you might think that well, since after a while all numbers repeat themselves, there is bound to exist a divisor like for example, 11111111 ... isnt prime because it can be divided by 11, the theorem still lives unproven and i think its worth a million if you give and prove either answer. So you see, this isnt just some math geeks trying to measure their e-penises :)

someone explain why this is important or this will go in the useless bin of discoveries. no child in 2nd grade will ever stumble upon this 17million digits in length prime number.

like come 4 years from now when cpu speeds double im sure they will find the next one thats xx million digits long

put this effort to driving my car on water vapor...

In brief, prime numbers are the numbers that all the other numbers are made of. That makes them pretty special and useful for factoring other numbers (which I believe is the main thing encryption does)

And so in short, because of this very large prime number, the company can have better encryption meaning more safe data.

http://www.claymath.org/pos...

http://stackoverflow.com/qu...

so you see, basically they need to keep creating these numbers because of how theyre defined (divisible only my 1 and themselves)and store them so you can use to encrypt all sort things, net traffic, any kind of data and so forth.

Think of it like this: if i give you the number 39, which two primes were multiplied to make it up? 3*13 in this case. If i create a number with 1000000 digits long, i dont need to care if you know what algorithm was used to obfuscate my message, im confident that if took me a supercomputer to make that number (and im a bank, so no ordinary men can afford the computers i can) it will take you infinity to break the message and by the time youre done its not relevant anymore.

Another interesting thing about them is a theorem i think, which basically asks this:

do primes go to infinity or not?

you might think that well, since after a while all numbers repeat themselves, there is bound to exist a divisor like for example, 11111111 ... isnt prime because it can be divided by 11, the theorem still lives unproven and i think its worth a million if you give and prove either answer. So you see, this isnt just some math geeks trying to measure their e-penises :)