30 Sep

WhiteBoardness - 9/29/97

Content-Type: text/plain Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2) From: Peter Langston <psl> Date: Tue, 30 Sep 97 14:50:50 -0700 To: Fun_People Subject: WhiteBoardness - 9/29/97 Forwarded-by: Joseph Harper <joeha@MICROSOFT.com> ========== Hampshire, England: If it were written out, it would stretch for 1.4 miles. If it were read out, it would take 224 hours. The world's largest known Mersenne prime number -- containing 895,932 digits -- has been discovered by an information technologist from Hampshire, England. A prime number is divisible only by itself and one. Three is a prime number, and so are 5, 7 and 11. The number discovered by Gordon Spence, 38, is so long that it would fill a 450-page paperback book. To recite it would take a month of eight-hour days. Fortunately, it is written in the relatively terse notation of the 17th century French monk Marin Mersenne, which takes the form of 2 multiplied by an exponent, minus 1. The exponent is 2,976,221. This means that 2 is multiplied by itself 2,976,221 times and then one is subtracted. Until now, only 35 Mersenne primes have ever been found. Prime numbers are one of the tools of encryption. But prime numbers of that magnitude are almost sublimely useless. Spence, who announced his discovery on the Internet, got involved in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search as one of 2,000 volunteers using a program written by George Woltman, a 39-year-old Florida computer programmer. He said: "I was just lucky to get the right range of numbers to check." It took his computer 15 days to complete the calculation to show that his number was indeed divisible only by itself and one. He then had to ask someone with a Cray T90 supercomputer to check the answer. He said: "I saw it as my only real opportunity to make a little mark on history. It was several thousands to one against. There are only 36 known to exist." ========== Montecantini, Italy: An Italian porn star who signed a sponsorship deal with the Lazio Rugby club has agreed to another joint venture, this time with a women's soccer team. Jessica Rizzo, one of Italy's better-known porn actresses, said Thursday she would sponsor a team from the town of Montecatini in Tuscany. Both Lazio and Montecatini will have Rizzo's name emblazoned across their shirts when their league seasons begin next month. Rizzo owns a satellite television channel that broadcasts hard-core pornography. The shirts will promote the decoder cards needed to access the channel. ==========

© 1997 Peter Langston