Why do we need to know about prime numbers with millions of digits? #2⁷⁷²³²⁹¹⁷-1
This article from the Conversation dives into the quest for prime numbers. Prime numbers are crucial to encryption and private communication. The bigger the prime the safer the information:
An ongoing project – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search – which aims to discover more and more primes of a particularly rare kind, has recently resulted in the discovery of the largest prime number known to date. Stretching to 23,249,425 digits, it is so large that it would easily fill 9,000 book pages. By comparison, the number of atoms in the entire observable universe is estimated to have no more than 100 digits.
The number, simply written as 2⁷⁷²³²⁹¹⁷-1 (two to the power of 77,232,917, minus one) was found by a volunteer who had dedicated 14 years of computing time to the endeavour.
Secrecy with prime numbers
One of the most widely used applications of prime numbers in computing is the RSA encryption system. In 1978, Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman combined some simple, known facts about numbers to create RSA. The system they developed allows for the secure transmission of information – such as credit card numbers – online.
The primal quest
It is neither safer cryptosystems nor improving computers that drove the latest Mersenne discovery, however. It is mathematicians’ need to uncover the jewels inside the chest labelled “prime numbers” that fuels the ongoing quest. This is a primal desire that starts with counting one, two, three, and drives us to the frontiers of research. The fact that online commerce has been revolutionised is almost an accident.
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.