Is there any point to finding ever-bigger prime numbers? © Getty Images

Is there any point to finding ever-bigger prime numbers?

There's just something satisfying about trying to count as high as you can.

Asked by: Joe Cairns, Edinburgh

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On 26 December 2017, the largest prime number yet found – code-named M77232917 and over 23 million digits long – was uncovered by a member of a global team of computer enthusiasts. But apart from brief fame and a cheque for $3,000, there seems little point, as even the Ancient Greeks knew that there’s an infinite number of the things. The only real practical value comes from using the search algorithms to give new computer hardware a workout.


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