Here they are — the five most-visited stories from the past week. Entire buildings 3-D mapped in just 10 minutes to with a mobile device; a super supernova that easily outshines our entire Milky Way; building a mirror for one of the world’s biggest telescopes; the brain’s memory capacity found to be in the petabyte range, as much as the entire Web; and discovery of the largest known prime number — almost 5M digits larger than the previous record — are all among the top stories.
Largest Known Prime Number Discovered, Almost 5M Digits Larger than Previous Record
On January 7, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) ― a collaborative project of volunteers who use freely available software to search for Mersenne prime numbers ― celebrated its 20th anniversary with the math discovery of the new largest known prime number. The new prime is almost 5 million digits larger than the previous record prime number, in a special class of extremely rare prime numbers known as Mersenne primes.
Brain’s Memory Capacity in Petabyte Range, as Much as Entire Web
Researchers have achieved critical insight into the size of neural connections, putting the memory capacity of the brain far higher than common estimates. The work also answers a longstanding question as to how the brain is so energy efficient and could help engineers build incredibly powerful, ultraprecise but energy-efficient computers, particularly ones that employ deep learning and artificial neural nets.
How Do You Build a Mirror for One of the World’s Biggest Telescopes?
In order to learn about galaxies as they were forming soon after the Big Bang, and about nearby but much smaller and fainter objects, astronomers need more powerful telescopes. Detectors in research telescopes are already so sensitive that they capture almost every incoming photon, so there’s only one way to detect fainter objects and resolve structure on finer scales: build a bigger telescope.
Scientists spot Brightest Supernova Yet, Outshines Milky Way
Astronomers have discovered the brightest star explosion ever, a super supernova that easily outshines our entire Milky Way. Researchers revealed “the most powerful supernova observed in human history” on January 14, 2016. They used a network of telescopes around the world to spot the record-breaking supernova last year. It is more than twice as luminous as any supernova observed to date, including the previous record-holders.
Entire Buildings 3-D Mapped in Real Time with Mobile Device
When Schöps wants to create a 3-D model of the ETH Zurich main building, he pulls out his tablet computer. As he completes a leisurely walk around the structure, he keeps the device’s rear-facing camera pointing at the building’s façade. Bit by bit, an impressive model of the edifice appears on the screen. It takes Schöps just 10 minutes to digitize the building. He developed the software as part of Google’s Project Tango.