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$2^{77,232,917}-1$ is the new $2^{74,207,281}-1$

We now know 50 Mersenne primes! The latest indivisible mammoth, $2^{77,232,917}-1$, was discovered by Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search user Jonathan Pace on the 26th of December 2017. As well as being the biggest Mersenne prime ever known, it’s also the biggest prime of any sort discovered to date.

GIMPS works by distributing the job of checking candidate numbers for primality to computers running the software around the world. It took over six days of computing to prove that this number is prime, which has since been verified on four other systems.

Pace, a 51-year old Electrical Engineer from Tennessee, has been running the GIMPS software to look for primes for over 14 years, and has been rewarded with a \$3,000 prize. When a prime with over 100 million digits is found, the discoverer will earn a \$50,000 prize. That probably won’t be for quite a while: this new prime has $23{,}249{,}425$ decimal digits, just under a million more than the previous biggest prime, discovered in 2016.

If you’re really interested, the entire decimal representation of the number can be found in a 10MB ZIP file hosted at Spoiler: it begins with a 4.

More information: press release at, home of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

via Haggis the Sheep on Twitter

Particularly mathematical New Years Honours 2018

When the UK Government announces a new list of honours, we (let’s be honest – sometimes) write up a list of those particularly mathematical entries. Here is the selection for the 2018 New Years Honours list.

  • Howard Groves, Member, Senior Mathematical Challenge Problems Group and Member, UK Mathematics Trust Challenges Sub Trust. OBE, for services to Education.
  • Christl Donnelly FRS, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology, Imperial College London. CBE, for services to Epidemiology and the Control of Infectious Diseases.
  • Ben Goldacre, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford and author of Bad Science. MBE, for services to Evidence in Policy.
  • Andrew Morris, Professor of Medicine, Director of the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, and Vice-Principal Data Science, University of Edinburgh. CBE, for services to Science in Scotland.
  • Stephen Sparks, lately Professorial Research Fellow, University of Bristol and former chair of ACME. Knighthood, for services to Volcanology and Geology. (Via The Mathematical Association.)
  • Bernard Silverman, lately Chief Scientific Adviser, Home Office and former President of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). Knighthood, for public service and services to Science. (Via Hetan Shah.)
  • John Curtice, Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde and Senior Research Fellow, NatCen Social Research, and Honorary Fellow, RSS. Knighthood, for services to the Social Sciences and Politics. (Via Hetan Shah.)
  • Diane Coyle, Professor of Economics, University of Manchester. CBE, for services to Economics and the Public Understanding of Economics. (Via Hetan Shah.)

Get the full list here. If you spot any others we should mention, please let us know in the comments.

Review: Geometry Snacks, by Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni

Geometry Snacks cover

Exams have a nasty habit of sucking the joy out of a subject. My interest in proper literature was dulled by A-Level English, and I celebrated my way out of several GCSE papers – in subjects I’d picked because I enjoyed them – saying “I’ll never have to do that again.”

Geometry is a topic that generally suffers badly from this – but fortunately, Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni’s Geometry Snacks is here to set that right.

Review: The Maths Behind… by Colin Beveridge

The Maths Behind... front coverEd Rochead sent us this review of Aperiodipal Colin Beveridge’s latest pop maths book.

This book is written to answer the question ‘when would you ever use maths in everyday life?’ It therefore focuses on applied maths, across a surprisingly wide breadth of applications. The book is organised into sections such as ‘the human world’, ‘the natural world’, ‘getting around’ and ‘the everyday’. Within each section there are approximately ten topics, for which the maths behind some facet of ‘everyday life’ is explained, with cheerful colour graphics and not shying away from using an equation where necessary.

AMS Communication Awards

Photo of Vi Hart: M Eifler, 2017 (CC by 4.0). Photo of Matt Parker: Steve Ullathorne

Photo of Vi Hart: M Eifler, 2017 (CC by 4.0). Photo of Matt Parker: Steve Ullathorne

The American Math Society’s Joint Policy Board for Mathematics has announced the winners of its 2018 Communication award. This year’s winners are internet maths wizard/YouTube star Vi Hart, and Aperiodipal and Stand-up Mathematician Matt Parker.

Both produce brilliant, enjoyable and illuminating mathematical videos (Vi Hart, Matt Parker), as well as numerous other projects – Vi Hart has worked with Khan Academy, produced online interactive mathematical stories, and done some super work on hyperbolic/4D virtual reality, while Parker performs with science comedy team Festival of the Spoken Nerd, has started the MathsJam pub maths movement, has written a popular maths book, and appears regularly on TV and radio.

The award includes a prize of $2,000, and aims to encourage high-quality communicators of mathematics. We think they’ve made a good choice!

More information

News post on the AMS website
About the AMS JPBM Communication prize