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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Exercises in Geekdom 

This is kind of cool: Student finds largest known prime number. I haven't been involved with the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, but I have been "working" with the SETI@home Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence project for a few years now.

Basically, the way such things work is by taking slack time on tons of home computer processors around the world, feeding them bits of data, letting the machines crunch the numbers, and then returning the results for interpretation to the main project computers. It's a really effective way of handling massive amounts of data without having to book time on a supercomputer.

Thus far, my computer (or computers, since I've changed machines at least four times since joining the project) has completed 1065 data units in a total of 29,721 hours 50 minutes and 07.9 seconds. And it's nearly 80% through with data unit number 1066.

As far as I know, no interesting communications have been found yet, but it's still a neat way for my computer to pass time when it's not being asked to spellcheck something.

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