FedEx Employee Discovers New Longest Prime Number

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A new prime number—the biggest ever—has been discovered. Unfortunately, we don’t have the 54 days CNET reports it would take to write it all out. The newly found number, nicknamed M77232917, is 2 to the 77,232,917th power minus 1, according to FiveThirtyEight. It’s 23,249,425 digits long—nearly a million digits longer than the previous record-holder for longest known prime number. (A prime number is one that is divisible only by 1 and itself, for those far removed from their elementary school math classes.)

M77232917 was discovered by Tennessee’s Jonathan Pace, a 51-year-old FedEx employee and volunteer for the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, CNBC reports. Pace had been searching for a new prime number for 14 years; it took an additional six days to prove his discovery was indeed a prime number. The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search says M77232917 is “big enough to fill an entire shelf of books totaling 9,000 pages.“ It adds that if each five digits of the number took up an inch, the entire thing would stretch more than 73 miles. And while that’s pretty dang long, it’s only a matter of time until an even longer one is discovered as there are an infinite amount of prime numbers in the universe.

France investigates Apple for slowing down old iPhones

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French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Apple over revelations it secretly slowed down older versions of its handsets.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Tuesday a probe was opened last week over alleged “deception and planned obsolescence” of some Apple products. It is led by the French body in charge of fraud control, which is part of the finance ministry.

It follows a legal complaint filed in December by a French consumer rights group that aims to stop intentional obsolescence of goods by companies.

In France it is illegal to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product in order to encourage customers replace it. A 2015 law makes it a crime, with penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to 5 percent of the company’s annual turnover.

Apple apologized in December for secretly slowing down older iPhones, a move it said was necessary to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to battery fatigue.

The company said on its website “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

Lawsuits against the company have been filed in the U.S. and Israel.

The French consumer rights group, called HOP, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 27. It claims Apple slowed down older smartphones in order to make clients buy the new iPhone 8, which was launched on the market around the same time, according to HOP’s written statement.

4 challenges posed by today’s long-distance relationships

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When people ask how my husband and I get through months spent on different continents, the conversation always turns to technology.

Just a generation ago, long-distance calls were rare and expensive. Today, a video call costs nothing, and it takes only seconds to connect. We can pop in on each other throughout the day, and supplement those calls with ongoing messaging conversations to share everything from little jokes to big feelings at a moment’s notice.

It’s almost as if we’re in the same room much of the time.

Only we’re not. And that’s the challenge: Digital communication brings us a lot of connection, and it’s probably the reason so many couples are attempting long-distance relationships these days. But the illusion of intimacy and physical presence isn’t the same as actually being together. A shared virtual existence comes with speed bumps that couples may not always see coming.



To communicate well, we need to see how others react to what we’re saying, says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. “This kind of synchronicity of communication,” he says, is very important and something romantic partners expect.

When communication with your partner happens over typed messaging, phone conversations and grainy video calls, and that vital information is lost, a partner can easily seem inattentive or out of sync.

And even on a particularly clear video call, which seems to offer us a chance to look directly into the room where someone is, there’s a crucial piece missing: If you look at the other person’s face while you’re speaking, they see you looking slightly away from them. If you look into the camera to give them the sense that you’re looking directly at them, then you’re not really seeing their facial expression and picking up on small, nonverbal clues.

WHAT TO DO: Understand that you’re missing this information, and discuss it.



It’s our instinct to assume that other people are a whole lot like us and to find ways that we’re similar, says Cait Lamberton, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Pittsburgh, who studies online behavior and decision-making. “In relationships, it would actually be awkward to seek out ways you’re different,” she says. “When you talk, you seek out ways you’re the same.”

But when we share daily life with a partner in person, a fuller picture emerges: We notice differences because they pop up in front of us. And in long-term relationships, we notice our partner growing and being impacted by new experiences.

“In the online world, you have a much more impoverished set of clues,” Lamberton says. “You’re going to assume this person is going to remain the same as they’ve always been.”

WHAT TO DO: Keep asking questions about daily experiences, Lamberton says, and check in about changes. And if you’ll be making occasional visits to see each other in person, don’t just stay in weekend vacation mode, says Galena Rhoades, associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver. Make sure you see your partner in various settings, like at work and with new friends, to know more about their daily life.



Long-term couples, especially those raising a family and running a household together, have many different kinds of conversations on a given day. In the real world, we usually keep them reasonably separate: We don’t talk about which groceries we need from the store while we’re on a romantic Friday night date.

Even in close-proximity relationships, there are times when “those different kinds of talk get kind of mixed up together,” Rhoades says. But the problem is more common when you’re communications are limited by miles and time zones.

WHAT TO DO: Be sensitive. Make room for all the different kinds of conversation, and notice when it’s clear which kind your partner is looking to have. And if your partner makes a misstep, be patient.



“Technology is only as good as the internet connection, which is often not so great,” Loewenstein says. “It’s so difficult not to, on some unconscious level, blame the other people. To direct the frustration to the person you’re communicating with.”

Long-distance phone calls, especially over WiFi, can also include a slight delay. So it’s easy to talk over each other without realizing your partner has more to say.

If a lot of calls are marked by this frustration, couples can start associating partner interaction with annoyance and stress.

On days when the tech connection is perfect, couples may have the opposite problem: Instant and free access across the miles can make us feel obligated to be in constant touch. We may feel pressure to share all details instantly, which can be exhausting. And that also leaves no time for processing thoughts.

WHAT TO DO: Be patient, and remind yourself that this amazing technology remains highly imperfect. The beauty of writing letters, says Rhoades, was that people took time to synthesize and summarize their experiences, and found carefully chosen words. Long-distance couples who grant themselves that same time may find that they say more, with more meaning, than they do in a contant stream of dashed-off commentary.

AT&T’s and Verizon’s 5G

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AT&T announced that it would begin rolling out its 5G network later this year.

That now makes for two major telecommunication companies in the US that will offer 5G networks in 2018, as Verizon said late last year that it would also be rolling out its 5G network.

Verizon and AT&T haven’t explicitly stated the speeds we can expect when their 5G networks arrive, but we know that they will be much faster the 4G LTE mobile networks we have today. And they even have the potential to be faster than wired internet connections, too.

When the 5G wireless standard hits the mainstream, our mobile and home internet speeds have the potential to be so fast that we’ll be downloading 4K movies, games, apps, and any other large form of content at a fraction of the time.

What is 5G?

It’s the upcoming evolution of wireless 4G LTE, which is mostly used today for wireless mobile networks. It offers incredibly fast wireless communication that can be used to transmit all sorts of data. It won’t replace cables entirely, but for some applications and industries, it could replace the need for them.

Apart from fast mobile networks, 5G will also be used to deliver internet to your home. Its speed is also suited for upcoming technologies, such as providing a continuous stream of data required for many self-driving-car systems.

How fast will 5G be?

At Mobile World Congress 2017, Samsung showcased its 5G Home Routers, which achieved speeds of up to 4 gigabits per second, according to PCMag. That’s 500 megabytes per second, which could let you download a 50 GB game in under two minutes, or a 100 GB 4K movie in under four minutes.

To give you an idea of how fast that is, the average internet speed in the US as of 2016 was 55 megabits per second, which translates to a woeful 6.5 megabytes per second.

As PCMag’s Sascha Segan pointed out, however, Samsung’s router was right next to the transmitting 5G cell during the demonstration, meaning those speeds are probably possible only in a perfect scenario — where the 5G router is extremely close to the 5G radio cell without any interference, obstacles, or network congestion.

It’s unlikely we’ll get “full” 5G speeds all the time.

Still, even with 50% of that performance, we could be experiencing 2 Gbps speeds at home.

And even 1 Gbps — 25% of the perfect scenario — would be great as compared with the US internet speed average.

Why isn’t superfast “gigabit” internet more common?

Gigabit internet speeds aren’t new, but they’re extremely rare.

There are just a handful of internet service providers that offer gigabit internet in a few parts of the US, largely because it’s incredibly expensive to lay down infrastructure. It involves digging up roads to install miles of fiber-optic cables and then connecting them to your specific address.

5G will face fewer obstacles than wired internet, thus making it easier to distribute superfast internet.

The best part about wireless 5G millimeter waves is that ISPs don’t have to build costly infrastructure to deliver those insanely fast speeds.

Instead, your internet service will be delivered wirelessly through the air, much like your mobile network for your phone.

Any company would gladly deliver better services if there were an easier, cheaper way to do so.

How does it work?

Samsung’s 5G Home Router will use an antenna, installed outside of one of your home’s windows, that’s connected to a WiFi router inside your home. That antenna will pick up one of 5G’s “millimeter wave” wireless signals transmitted from millimeter-wave cell towers.

We’ve seen this technology before from a startup called Starry, which announced this month that it would roll out its internet service in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

Starry also said it would expand its service to 14 additional markets over the next year, including New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, and Minneapolis.

Hurry up and wait.

You can’t buy it yet, but 5G technology is here, and now it’s a matter of when it will become mainstream.

We’re essentially waiting for ISPs to begin rolling out 5G. At the moment, Verizon and AT&T have both said they will do so later this year.

So far, no smartphones support 5G because there aren’t any mainstream 5G networks to which they can connect. Once these networks begin rolling out, we’ll surely see smartphones with 5G support.

As for home internet, there’s no indication of how much 5G routers and other equipment — those or internet plans — will cost. You can get a 500 Mbps plan from Verizon Fios now, but it’s $275 a month.

Here’s hoping gigabit 5G internet will be cheaper.

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