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UCLA group finds huge prime number

LOS ANGELES --- Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13 million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize.

The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.

"We're delighted," said UCLA's Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. "Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds."

It's the eighth Mersenne prime discovered at UCLA.

Primes are numbers such as three, seven and 11 that are divisible by only two whole positive numbers: themselves and one.

Mersenne primes -- named for their discoverer, 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne -- are expressed as 2P-1, or two to the power of "P'' minus one. P is itself a prime number. For the new prime, P is 43,112,609.

Thousands of people around the world have been participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, a cooperative system in which underused computing power is harnessed to perform the calculations needed to find and verify Mersenne primes.

The $100,000 prize is being offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for finding the first Mersenne prime with more than 10 million digits. The foundation supports individual rights on the Internet and set up the prime number prize to promote cooperative computing using the Web.

The prize could be awarded when the new prime is published, probably next year.

Woman's morning coffee flavored with a bit of bat

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA --- It wasn't just the caffeine that gave an Iowa woman an extra jolt after she had her morning coffee. It was also the bat she found in the filter.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says the woman reported a bat in her house but wasn't too worried about it. She turned on her automatic coffee maker before bedtime and drank her coffee the next morning.

She discovered the bat in the filter when she went to clean it that night. The woman has undergone treatment for possible rabies.

Health officials say that the bat was sent to a lab but that its brain was too cooked by the hot water to determine whether it had rabies.

Anti-bear spray discharge closes airport in Alaska

JUNEAU, ALASKA --- The airport serving Alaska's capital city doesn't have to worry about bears coming around anytime soon.

Juneau International Airport had to be evacuated Friday afternoon because of an accidental discharge of anti-bear spray.

The chemical comes in a canister like pepper spray but is used to defend against attacking bears.

Fire Chief Eric Mohrman says the spray spread through the building via the ventilation system. The terminal had to be cleared and the building aired out. One person was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

The airport reopened after about an hour and a half.

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Bigdawg62
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Bigdawg62 09/28/08 - 02:37 pm
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And finding the largest prime

And finding the largest prime number accomplishes what? Seems like a huge waste of time to me. Couldn't they use their time to actually accomplish something that helps others?

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