You're reading: Posts By Katie Steckles

919444¹⁰⁴⁸⁵⁷⁶ + 1 is prime

Distributed internet prime number search PrimeGrid has found a new largest generalised Fermat prime.

The discovery was made on 29th August, and was double-checked before being announced on 2nd September. PrimeGrid uses a distributed computing approach and uses spare computer time donated by volunteer computers connected to their network.

A generalised Fermat prime is a prime number of the form $a^{2^n} + 1$, with $a \gt 0$. It’s called ‘generalised’ because ‘Fermat prime’ is the name for the particular case $a=2$.

Much like Mersenne primes, there are special tests which make it much easier to check if a number of this form is prime than for a general number. For this reason, they’re a good place to look for new large primes.

Until now only 392 generalised Fermat primes had been found: this new discovery makes 393. At 6,253,210 digits long, it’s now the 12th largest of all known primes, and the second-largest known non-Mersenne prime.

PrimeGrid have put out an announcement in PDF format giving some more details about the search, and credits for the many people involved writing algorithms and providing computers to run them on.

The PrimeGrid homepage has more information about the many different prime number searches they run, and how to join in the search with your own PC.

Maths at the British Science Festival

The British Science Festival is organised annually by the British Science Association, and this year it’s hosted by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 September. For more details and full listings, see the main British Science Festival website.

We’ve pulled out some of the mathematics-related events in the main programme – from theatre reproductions to puzzle workshops and plenty of talks and lectures, there’s something for everyone!

New YouTube videos by me and James Grime

I’ve been at it again, making videos for that YouTube – this time, a collabo with James Grime. We have each posted a video on the topic of a mathematical game, as we both had things we wanted to make videos about but nobody to play with, so we met up after school and made some YouTubes.

My video features two games which *SPOILER* turn out to have maths in them. I’m also doing a bit of a giveaway on Twitter, where you can win the actual cards used in the video (I will post them out in the IRL post mail), so reply to this tweet if you want a chance to win:

James has also posted his video, which is about a different game:

My YouTube channel
James’ YouTube channel

Landon Clay, founder of the Clay Mathematics Institute, has died

The Clay Mathematics Institute, home of the Clay Millennium Maths Prizes, has announced the sad death of its founder, Landon Clay. “Driven by a deep appreciation of the beauty and importance of mathematical ideas”, Clay donated generously to many organisations and projects, including the Institute which he founded in 1998.

Statement on the CMI website, including an addendum from Andrew Wiles

via @LondMathSoc

Maths at the Edinburgh Fringe

Every August a multitude of comedy shows, theatre pieces, interpretive dance performances, musical extravaganzas and spoken word events spring up all over the Edinburgh Fringe. As a busy mathematician (there are infinitely many integers; who has spare time?) I’m sure you’ll appreciate our guide to which of those things are mathematical, or have a tangential (LOL) relationship with mathematics. Please note: none of these are recommendations, as we haven’t seen the shows and mainly have been grepping the word ‘maths’ in online programmes.

My Favorite Theorem podcast launched

My Favorite Theorem logo

As of this month, maths person Evelyn Lamb and colleague Kevin Knudson are producing a regular weekly maths podcast called ’My Favorite Theorem’.

They plan to spend each episode talking with a mathematical professional about their favourite result in mathematics, as well as something which goes with it, such as a foodstuff or real-world object which analogises well (like choosing a wine paired with a meal). The episodes are fairly short – both released so far are under 25 minutes – and the first one focuses on the hosts’ own favourite theorems. If you can get past the US spelling of favourite, it’s an enjoyable listen and covers some cool topics.

More Information

My Favorite Theorem on iTunes
My Favorite Theorem on Twitter