Distributed computing pays off:

An eye surgeon in Germany has discovered the world’s largest known prime number – or at least his computer did.

The surgeon, Dr. Martin Nowak of Michelfeld, is among thousands of participants in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, one of several big projects that tap idle computers worldwide.

Now, Can You Find Its Square Root?, from the NY Times

Here’s the GIMPS site itself.

Me, I’ve been dedicating my computer’s spare cycles to SETI@home for years now. I may have a better chance of finding a Mersenne prime than a signal from ET, but I live in hope. Personally, I’m in it for the glory: If your computer is involved in the detection, you will, if you wish, be listed as a co-discoverer.