New Largest Known Prime Number Has More Than 23 Million Digits

iStock
iStock

Prime numbers come in all sizes: They go down to single digits and grow infinitely larger. But calculating the exact quantity of the largest prime numbers in existence takes serious time and effort. Now, thanks to help from a volunteer and his computer, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has identified the newest largest prime number we know of.

The prime number has 23,249,425 digits, surpassing the previous record holder by 1 million digits. It can be written as 277,232,917-1 or M77232917. Like other prime numbers, the quantity can only be divided by one and itself. But unlike some smaller primes, this one joins a special category called Mersenne primes.

Mersenne primes are found by calculating numbers to the second power and subtracting the value of one from the total. Only 50 prime numbers have been found this way, and a lot of computing power is required to uncover them.

Since 1996, GIMPS has been crowdsourcing computers to discover larger and larger prime numbers. Anyone can download their program and dedicate their unused processing power to churning out algorithms in search of the next record breaker. Volunteers whose computers successfully identify a new prime number are eligible for a cash reward of up to $3000.

The most recent winner was Jonathon Pace, a 51-year-old electrical engineer from Tennessee. His computer calculated the number M77232917 on December 26, and its prime status was independently verified by four separate computers.

GIMPS is constantly outdoing itself, with the previous largest prime announced just two years ago. If you'd like to join the effort, their prime-hunting software is free to download. But don't expect instant results: Pace was volunteering with GIMPS for 14 years before his altruism paid off. 

Foster Families Can Shop for Free Clothing at This Western New York Charity

iStock.com/goodmoments
iStock.com/goodmoments

There are nearly 438,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and many of them come to their foster families needing clothes and shoes. Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, three foster parents from western New York, have gotten together to start a free clothing bank dedicated to providing foster kids with the wardrobe staples they need, WGRZ reports.

Foster Love Closet is a free clothing bank located in the Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden, New York, and it's now collecting donations. Open two days a week, the foster kid charity allows foster families to pick up a week's worth of kids' clothing at a time. Items like shirts and pants, as well as extra necessities like coats, socks, shoes, underwear, and pajamas, are set up in the charity's 2000-square-foot space. All socks and underwear are brand new, and any other items are either new or gently used.

There's something for foster kids of all ages, from infants to older teens. Foster parents with valid placement papers and a photo ID are welcome to pick up clothes for their foster kids four times a year, or whenever a new child moves into their home. Families are encouraged to bring their foster kids along to "shop" for the free clothes.

If you're looking to contribute to the Foster Love Closet's inventory, the center is now accepting clothes free of rips, holes, and stains that are appropriate for the spring and summer months. You can also support them by purchasing something off their Amazon wishlist.

[h/t WGRZ]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

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