Mersenne primeNovember 20, 2010
It took two months before the mathematician found the overlooked Mersenne prime in the server logs, then a week to verify the discovery. All that’s left to uncover now are megaprimes, giant numbers that would require rolls of butcher paper, equations that would take sleepless weeks to write by hand. In the modern age, everything happens across a hummingbird network of computers. Still, he wondered how it would have felt to be Marin Mersenne himself, making calculations by candlelight in a monastery, relying on instinct where problem-solving, testing, checking the work proved impossible.