FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Imagine the biggest number you can possibly think of. Well, it's probably a safe bet that a Broward College math professor can top it with the new prime number he discovered.
A prime number is only divisible by itself and the number one, so finding a new one can be quite difficult. It's so tough that to find a brand new number, Professor John Perretta had to run 1.4 quintillion (1,400,000,000,000,000,000) calculations to test the number.
The new number is just less than 30 million digits long and is expressed, 4737*2^985810+1. Due to the number's size, it's been designated a "Titan" prime number.
"The number is so large that if I was to write it, it would take a ream of paper," Perretta said.
Perretta pulled off the feat by building a supercomputer that has 3,076 processors that tested 625,000 potential numbers. Each test took about 300-400 computer hours, Perretta said.
So what can be done with a new prime number? Perretta said encryption used to protect private information online could be one application because prime numbers are critical for encryption.