Found using an extensive network of computers, the ridiculously large number is 17,425,170 digits long.
The discovery was made by mathematician Curtis Cooper from the University of Central Missouri. To find it, Cooper used a vast network of volunteer computers known as the "Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search" with a combined total of more than 360,000 processors. The setup is similar to the SETI@Home project which uses spare processing power on people's computers to help analyze astronomical data.
"It's analogous to climbing Mount Everest," said George Woltman who invented the system. "People enjoy it for the challenge of the discovery of finding something that's never been known before."
"The largest prime number has been discovered — and it's 17,425,170 digits long."
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