Originally posted by PalpatineWAnd do we really KNOW it's the largest number?
These are the largest discovered to date, so we will (probably) find a larger prime number eventually. I don't think they test numbers in order, and there are multiple people working on it in different ways, which leads to sometimes finding a larger number first.
Wow, they have a client that allows someone to provide their computer's processing power in order to help with the search. That's better than helping analyze radio waves from outer space for SETI ( http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ) like my computer used to be doing when I was away.
NOTE: The above post makes no sense. We apologize for the inconvenience.
There are actually a number of distributed computing (DC) projects out there right now. I've been a part of a few of the teams (a very small part!) over at Ars over the last year or so.
I really recommend the Folding@Home project if you are interested in doing something like this. If power were just cheaper I'd probably have a farm of computers running this project. It is a protein folding simulation run by Stanford University.
The guys over in the DC forums at Ars are generally very friendly. It's a very tech savvy site, but I think they'd be happy to talk to some new blood that would crunch numbers for them.