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.
http://www.wheels.org/spacewar/stone/rolling_stone.html A nice peek into the beginnings of the "modern" computer age ... especially if you had no idea that we have the internet and video game consoles thanks to damn dirty hippies.