The age-old Sierpinski riddle is perhaps about to be solved after discovery of the seventh biggest prime number known to humanity. The newfound digits were unraveled by a team of collaborators after numerous decades of intensive mathematical research.
While this may not particular provoke any spine-tingling thought in the average layman, the world’s celebrating a novel find – a nine-million-digit prime number that has escaped the most concerted scrutiny of scientists and mathematicians throughout the world. This noble breakthrough reduced the six probable candidates of the enigmatic Sierpinski digit down to five.
Founded by Waclaw Sierpinski in the 1960s, a renowned Polish mathematician, the Sierpinski conundrum challenges thinkers to arrive at the smallest number that fits a precise and awfully tricky set of criteria.
In the universally embraced formula k x 2n + 1, the trailblazing brainiac put global to task in an effort to decipher an appropriate number that would take the place of “k”
in the foregoing formula in which every integer must be composite, i.e. not prime. Specifically, this as-yet unknown value must be a positive odd number that replaces “k” in the aforementioned formulation. As straightforward as this brain-teaser may appear, no one has been able to find out this exceedingly indecipherable number do far!
Rightfully assuming that the “k” above is a Sierpinski number, then all the included values ought to be composite. The puzzle lies in the uphill task of taking “k” as a Sierpinski number, and then proving that k x 2n + 1 is composite for every “n”, certainly a prime number. You’re definitely out of luck already – like everyone else out there!
As yet, the lowest accepted Sierpinski digits are 78, 577 – proposed by John Selfridge in 1962. The United States mathematician didn’t however preclude on the largely uncertain probability that there could be smaller numbers of the same nature. Over the past five decades, thinkers have come up with digits that could be the candidates for the smallest Sierpinski numbers. 10,223, 21,181, 22,699, 24,737, 55,459 and 67,607. Nonetheless, there’s still no verifiable certitude that these are indeed Sierpinski numbers.
Like many other worthy discoveries, the mystery of the seventh largest prime number was disentangled by a team of volunteers whose aim was to find the smallest Sierpinski number. 10,223 × 231172165 + 1 – this is now the biggest prime number on record, thanks to the perplexing challenge Waclaw threw at future mathematicians.
Interestingly, this incredibly long number would take a single desktop countless centuries to find. At 9,383,761 digits long, the tireless research team had to involve multiple computers working together for several days, even weeks ,sometimes. While this obviously hasn’t figured out the magical Sierpinski puzzle, it has helped disqualify one of the six proposed candidates.
According to PrimeGrid – “This is the largest prime found attempting to solve the Sierpinski Problem and eliminates k = 10,223 as a possible Sierpinski number”. Without doubt, this becomes the most commendable attempt at unmasking the elusive number Sierpinski specified.
While the mind-boggling assignment of finding the correct digits that would answer Sierpinski’s jigsaw is likely to remain a Herculean endeavor for accomplished mathematicians, amateurs like us have a reason to celebrate discovery of the new prime number. If anything, the largest prime number will help researchers scale up computer capacity and enhance encryption technology.