The largest known prime number has been discovered by a computer at a university in Missouri in the US.
Prime numbers – such as two, three, five and seven – are divisible only by themselves and one, and play an important role in computer encryption.
The new prime is more than 22 million digits long, five million longer than the previous largest known prime.
Primes this large could prove useful to computing in the future.
The new prime number was found as part of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (Gimps), a global quest to find a particular type of large prime numbers.
Mersenne primes are named after a French monk who studied them in the 17th Century.
They are hunted by multiplying two by itself a large number of times, then taking away one. It is a relatively manageable calculation for today’s computers, but not every result…
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