A ringer

An interesting enough science bit from AP:

Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13 million-digit prime number [one divisible only by itself and 1], a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize. The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP.

Hang on a sec. “Mathematicians discover”… but it was the computers actually doing the thing. I could run the Boinc app on my PC and do calculations for SETI, but that wouldn’t mean I “discovered” anything. Now, if it had been a group busily working away with pens and paper, or maybe an abacus, that would count as mathmaticians discovering. But then one could argue that many scientific discoveries should be attributed to the equipment, rather than the individual.

Maybe I’m just bitter and twisted. And maybe that explains why I think this: If it was Windows Vista, they’d still be looking.

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