On my way to school this morning I heard a story on NPR about the search for the next Mersenne prime number. The story concluded with the interviewer saying that the next Mersenne prime number may not be found until 2012. The number could be found faster if more people download GIMPS. GIMPS, developed by George Woltman, is a program developed to search for the next Mersenne prime number. GIMPS is free and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
Applications for Education
GIMPS could be an interesting program to run on a computer in a mathematics classroom. Perhaps you and your students could be the people to discover the next Mersenne prime number.