Prime Time for Big Prime Number

largest prime number

A prime number is divisible only by one and itself. We learn about them in elementary school and recognize them as 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc. As the numbers get larger, the space between primes becomes greater. In January 2016 a mathematician at the University of Central Missouri announced the discovery of the largest prime number to date:  274,207,281 – 1.

To put that in context, it is 22,338,618 digits long — 5 million digits longer than the previous record holder.

If we were to try to reproduce the number in print and reduced the size of the print so that each digit measured one millimeter in width, the paper would stretch out for 14 miles.

If you are inclined to try it for yourself, you can download the entire number here.


Euclid’s Geometric Propositions? Child’s Play

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
When he was a child, Blaise Pascal once locked himself in his room for several days and would not allow anyone to enter. When he emerged, he had figured out all of Euclid’s geometrical propositions totally on his own.

Chess: A Game of Limitless Possibilities


In a chess game after three moves by each player, there are over nine million possible configurations for the chess board.

Claude Shannon (1916-2001), an American mathematician, calculated the total possible configurations for a chess board at roughly ten tredecillion (1, followed by 43 zeroes).


A Billion By Any Other Name….

Black and white numbers background

Depending on whether a country uses the Long Scale or the Short Scale for its numbering system, 1,000,000,000,000 will always be 1,000,000,000,000, but whether you express that number as one billion or one trillion could vary.

The Short Scale is typically used by English-speaking and Arabic-speaking countries, whereas Latin countries and continental Europe tend toward the Long Scale. Some Asian countries use their own system.

For example:

  • 1,000,000,000 is one billion in short scale and one milliard or thousand million in long scale
  • 1,000,000,000,000 is one trillion in short scale and one billion in long scale
  • 1,000,000,000,000,000 is one quadrillion in short scale and one billiard or one thousand billion in long scale

For more facts about numbers, check out our Numbers Category here.



Next Time, Please Show Your Work

The Equation for Which Fermat Discovered the Long-Elusive Proof
The Equation for Which Fermat Discovered the Long-Elusive Proof

Pierre de Fermat (1605-1665) wrote in the margin of a book, “I have discovered a truly remarkable proof of this theorem which this margin is too small to contain.” He then died.

It took 357 years before his proof was rediscovered by Andrew Wiles in 1994.

The theorem was noted by Guinness Book of World Records as “The Most Difficult Mathematical Problem.”