Jeff Wolfe's Weblog

Saturday, November 23, 2002

277153*2^429819-1 IS PRIME! - I've been using the spare cycles on my computers to search for prime numbers since 1996. For the past couple of years, I've been working on the Riesel problem. This week, I discovered the prime number 277153*2^429819-1, which is currently the 84th largest prime number ever discovered. It contains 129,394 digits.

Only 115 more primes to discover before the Riesel problem is solved. You can sign up to join the search (or join several other prime projects) here.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

1994 LITE - In 1994, if memory serves, the media predicted a close election, and the Republicans swept every "close" race. This is no 1994, but again after a prediction of a close election, the Republicans made solid gains in Congress, increasing their slim margin in the House and retaking the Senate.

I noticed two interesting items from the above linked article. One, it mentions that this is the first time since 1934 that the president's party gained seats in the off-year election of his first term. What it doesn't mention is the president in 1934. Perhaps the authors don't want to admit any similarities between W and FDR.

Also, with the Republicans sweeping the Congress, the article takes the first step in what I expect to become a trend: downplay the importance of the Congressional races and claim that the gubernatorial races (in which the Democrats look to gain a few seats) are what really counts. Or, as the article puts it, "In the long term, the gubernatorial races -- where there are 20 open seats -- may have greater political resonance. Four of the last five presidents were governors." Of course, there are enough governors of both parties in office to supply the presidential races indefinitely--one or two isn't going to make much difference in that regard. And the time to be gaining statehouses is before redistricting, not after.

By the way, my favorite line from the otherwise insipid television news coverage was by the analyst who suggested that with the election of Elizabeth Dole to the Senate, her husband Bob Dole and Senator Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, who ran against each other for President of the United States in 1996, might next run against each other for President of the Senate Spouses Club.

UPDATE: This version of the article mentions FDR by name.