A physicist, a mathematician and an engineer are travelling
by rail. As they cross into Scotland, they observe a single
black sheep grazing on a distant hill. The engineer comments:
"Remarkable! The sheep in Scotland are black!" The
physicist corrects, "Scotland has at least one black sheep."
The mathematician carefully observes: "From the evidence
we have before us, we can only conclude that Scotland has
at least one sheep, at least one side of which is black."
George Woltman, the guiding spirit of GIMPS, has announced
on the list that he has verified the 39th Mersenne prime on his
P4. Being the careful mathematician, he is getting a second
confirmation using a different software and different hardware.
When the second confirmation is complete on December 6,
he will announce the find to the press. Many of us feel his
caution is as overstated as the sheep-observing mathematician,
but George is the boss. Look for the announcement in about
a week. spike
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