By Olivia B. Waxman
January 20, 2016

A university computer in Missouri has found the new largest prime number.

—, is made up of 22,338,618 digits, nearly 5 million more than the previous record. The figure was identified after 31 days of “non-stop computing” on a machine used by Curtis Cooper, a professor of computer science at the University of Central Missouri, who has now detected four of these record-breaking primes and is eligible for a $3,000 prize for this finding.

“To prove there were no errors in the prime discovery process, the new prime was independently verified using both different software and hardware,” according to a press release from the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a group of volunteers searching for “a special class of extremely rare prime numbers known as Mersenne primes,” named after Marin Mersenne, the French monk who discovered them. There are only 49 known ones, and math buffs can download a software that runs in the background of their computers to join the hunt.

Want to attempt to scroll through the entire figure? See the organization’s press release for a link to download the text file.

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