Largest Prime Number Is 17 Million Digits Long

Dan Evon

According to a mathematician at the University of Central Missouri, the largest prime number is 17,425,170 digits long.

The Huffington Post reports that largest prime number before Curtis Cooper's discovery was only 12,978,189 digits long.

George Woltman, the creator of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), said:

"It's analogous to climbing Mt. Everest ... People enjoy it for the challenge of the discovery of finding something that's never been known before."

Time explains:

"Named after their discoverer Marin Mersenne, a 17th century French monk, the numbers are all expressed as 2 raised to the power of "P" minus 1, of which P is also a prime. The newly identified number is the 48th known Mersenne prime."

Wolton said:

"If you were to do it it (manually) would take longer than the age of the universe."

Cooper said:

"Every time I find one it is incredible. I kind of consider it like climbing Mount Everest or finding a really rare diamond or landing somebody on the moon. It's an accomplishment. It's a scientific feat."