Microsoft wants your help to find undiscovered prime numbers

You likely haven't made it this far in life without learning about prime numbers, as they are one of the fundamentals of mathematics. They are also a big part of the technology world, being used for encryption. You may not think about them everyday, but there are people out there who do, and now you can be one of them.

Microsoft is introducing the Prime Challenge, a contest to find the undiscovered prime numbers, of which there likely are quite a lot, though nobody can really say how many. "The challenge is open to all; everyone is encouraged to try and find a 'lost prime'. To enter the challenge just go to www.primechallenge.org and follow the instructions online", says Microsoft.

Prime numbers exist in abundance on the bottom of the spectrum, but decrease as the count rises, and the contest will require you to stretch that count pretty far. Consider it a safe bet that you will not be doing this with pen and paper, or even a high-end desktop computer. For that reason, Microsoft is offering all contestants a free Windows Azure trial subscription and $200 worth of access to create and run virtual machines. As the company states, "in order to map large prime numbers of thousands of digits, powerful technology, which can quickly sift through and crunch numbers, is required".

The contest is open to everyone -- individuals, organizations and schools. It will run now through March 29 of 2014 -- 2903, clever Microsoft.

Image Credit: pashabo / Shutterstock

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