A reader in Omaha asks: “Hello – sorry to interrupt your day, but Paul
Harvey on the radio just said that the largest prime number has been
discovered. He gave a person’s name (which I forgot) and the number of
digits (6 million plus). You’re the only person in my e-mail who might know
something about this. Is it true? Thanks.”
Well, if Paul Harvey called it the largest prime number, he mis-spoke.
There is no largest prime number, a fact proved by Euclid around 2,300 years ago. This one is just the largest we have so far
identified. It’s (2 raised to the power of 20,996,011) minus 1. The number
of digits is 6,320,430. Here’s a story.