[ExI] 2^57885161-1

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Feb 8 15:39:47 UTC 2013

-----Original Message-----
From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Dave Sill
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2013 5:45 AM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] 2^57885161-1

What's the mathematical importance of 2^257885161-1? Or Mersenne primes in


We could use them for doing stress tests on new computers or new processors.
If you run the Lucas Lehmer algorithm and get a residual of zero, you have
demonstrated that your new computer can run at maximum capacity for over a
month running over 25 million processor-intensive Fourier transforms
flawlessly without an error.

We could use them to find out of some sneaky virus has invaded our computer
which is quietly running its own background process.  This is an important
application I have repeatedly tried to sell to big companies with thousands
of computers.  If you use operating systems by Microsloth, hit ctrl-alt-del
and bring up the task manager, look at the CPU column, notice that your
computer is doing nothing, even when you are using it.  Back in the old
days, they used to have a line called System Idle Process.  But Microsloth
apparently didn't like to advertise the absurdity of Idle Process being
persistently 96 to 99 percent of the CPU "usage" so just now I notice that
isn't in there anymore.  

A number of years ago, when processors were about a tenth the power they are
now, I noticed this and began to wonder if some sneaky perpetrator could
write a virus which would disguise itself as System Idle Process.  I asked a
computer professional at my workplace who assured me this could not be done,
absolutely impossible.  I asked a second IT professional, a more experienced
smarter guy, who said it wasn't clear that this is completely impossible,
and we should think about that, but that he personally didn't know how to do
it.  Noting the trend in the answers, I found the smartest IT guy in the
company, who told me that this could be done, he has seen a process disguise
itself as something else, and yes we damn well should have some means of
detecting that.

So...  I believed the third guy.  My notion was to intentionally put
something like GIMPS on all company computers, rig it to not compute at all
unless no key has been touched for at least five minutes, like a screen
saver from the old days, then rig up some kind of computation-accomplished
logger, then use our high-tech trend-spotter software (the kind we space
guys use all the time) to see if any particular machine isn't getting much
work done, then go figure out why.

Of course, we don't need Mersenne Primes or GIMPS to do that, but why not
that particular application?  It is a perfectly suitable for that, it's
free, and it is easy to modify the code to do logging, since the code is

In all this I do recognize the logical tension... understatement, I
recognize the absurdity of having a rocket scientist commenting to this
particular crowd on something having to do with computers and processors.
But you guys often comment on rocket science, so hey, it's all good, we are
among friends.  {8^D  So I ask my computer-superiors present, which is
almost everyone here, why not rig up some kind of GIMPS-like process, send
it out to every desktop computer in the company, find out which computers
are failing to get it done and why.  We might find a new Mersenne prime,
which is good PR for the company.


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