[ExI] new mersenne prime

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Jun 12 20:25:17 UTC 2009


You heard it first here.  GIMPS has just discovered and verified a new
Mersenne prime, bringing the total to 47 known.  2^42643801-1 is prime.  It
isn't the largest known prime this time, since 2^43112609-1 is prime, but
there is something really cool and interesting going on:  The last eight
Mersenne primes have been crammed anomalously close together.  No one has a
reasonable (or even an absurd) explanation for why that is.  

This observation leads to an interesting flight of fancy: what if... we
started discovering that Mersenne primes were ever closer, instead of
holding with the exponential pattern that everyone knows but no one can
explain?  Would mathematicians go crazy trying to figure out why?  Or would
it just be one of those things like the double slit experiment, or
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, that physicists have observed and can
describe, but never really explained, and eventually just accepted as the
weirdness of nature?  

What if large numbers of mathematicians really did start goings bonkers
pondering this?  How would we explain to our sane, non-mathematical friends
and family what it is that is causing our collective insanity?  Would we be
like Pirsig who inexplicably went crazy pondering the nature of quality?  Or
would we mathematicians eventually conclude there is a god who entertains
herself setting up cruel jokes to play on those few humans who dig this kind
of thing?


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