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Old 2004-05-31, 16:06   #1
Prime Monster
 
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Default What is the use of these large primes

Having read the stories, and threads about 224,036,583-1 on both slashdot and k5, I believe we need a simple explanation, that everyone can understand of possible uses of these large Mersenne primes, and why we are searching for them. Basically a standard piece of text that can be added to Press Releases and other stories.

I am a bit tired of reading about cancer, ET, proteins and so on, as better projects to "waste" MY cycles for

I am a professional DC nut, so it doesn't bother me that much, as I run all types of projects, but since my heart lies with GIMPS, I would like to see some good reasons for the usefulness of the project that I can slam in the table for the unbelievers

PM
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Old 2004-05-31, 16:45   #2
Mike
 
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I read something that it helps with security and encryption... I forgot where I read that though...
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Old 2004-05-31, 17:13   #3
dsouza123
 
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When a new Mersenne prime is found :
It adds to the list of known Mersenne primes,
providing more data points for conjectures dealing with Mersennes.
It usually is the largest prime number.
Prize money for finding a 10 Million digit prime.

The program is a good test for determining if your PC is calculating correctly.
It has spurred the development of advances in programming.

It has provided a reason for mersenneforum.org where a gracious disemination of knowledge occurs, with people at all levels from little math understanding to experts.
The forum is also a home for other related math projects, bringing expertise from other groups that wouldn't have necessarily been brought together.

Gets people interested and more knowledgeable about math.

It provides a thrill when a new prime is found ( recently every year or so), some other project find nothing.
(Also a challenge, trying to figure out what is the new prime before it is revealed).

It doesn't have a screensaver so you can still use any you chose or none at all.

Has a stress testing mode that will quickly catch calculation failures on PC, on a new machine winnowing out a defective machine while still under warranty.
(Maybe marginal component(s) that would have failed just after the warranty expired.)
(Maybe caused by buggy drivers that would cause errors in calculations with other software, spreadsheets, tax programs etc.)
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Old 2004-06-01, 20:20   #4
patrik
 
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I think Chris Caldwell's explanation http://www.utm.edu/research/primes/notes/faq/why.html is a very good reference. My favourite answer is number four.
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Old 2004-06-01, 21:05   #5
ewmayer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrik
I think Chris Caldwell's explanation http://www.utm.edu/research/primes/notes/faq/why.html is a very good reference. My favourite answer is number four.
No, no, no - much more important than all these silly "truth and beauty" arguments is the following:

If a hostile race of space aliens is considering whether to attack earth, as a simple gauge of our technological level of advancement (i.e. whether we'd be easy pickings) they might send a brief message to the effect of: "what is the largest prime number you have found?" or simply ask us to broadcast the largest Mersenne-prime exponent we know. If the answer is not sufficiently large, they might decide that our technology is somewhat advanced but inferior to theirs, and designate Earth for their next colonization project. In other words, the fate of humanity could very well be riding on it.
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Old 2004-06-02, 01:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer
No, no, no - much more important than all these silly "truth and beauty" arguments is the following:

If a hostile race of space aliens is considering whether to attack earth, as a simple gauge of our technological level of advancement (i.e. whether we'd be easy pickings) they might send a brief message to the effect of: "what is the largest prime number you have found?" or simply ask us to broadcast the largest Mersenne-prime exponent we know. If the answer is not sufficiently large, they might decide that our technology is somewhat advanced but inferior to theirs, and designate Earth for their next colonization project. In other words, the fate of humanity could very well be riding on it.
Would 2^24036583 - 1 be large enough for them?
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Old 2004-06-02, 06:44   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jinydu
Would 2^24036583 - 1 be large enough for them?
And would they be impressed when we send it in binary?
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Old 2004-06-02, 09:17   #8
jinydu
 
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What if they asked us for M100?

Could we just reply: 10 (base M100)?
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Old 2004-06-02, 09:27   #9
ET_
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd7dvd
And would they be impressed when we send it in binary?

Aaaargh! Space spammers!!!
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Old 2004-06-02, 10:24   #10
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binary representation easy to make into zip though ... 24 million+ of the same "character"
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Old 2004-06-02, 15:08   #11
ewmayer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jinydu
Would 2^24036583 - 1 be large enough for them?
We won't know until we hear from them - in the meantime, we'd better keep looking.
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