Re: Tough Logs?
"a) infinity by definition has no top end, therefore there will also be an infinite number of Mersenne Primes"
No it doesn't. Not even slightly.
"b) does it really help us to know what they specifically are?
c) is there not something more useful they could put the computing power to - like the cancer project or any (infinite) number of more beneficial research projects - or perhaps one to combat the global warming by all that er, wasted computing power"
Sheesh. Some people are so short-sighted. What do you gain by constructing a network of computers capable of testing the primality of very large numbers? Well, you might get an improved algorithm but one of the attractions of Mersenne primes is that there's a very easy(*) test. No, what you get is expertise in constructing large networks of computers for solving large, distributed problems.
What use are those? Well, read back through the comments about some of the other distributed computational projects.
And what use is knowing new Mersenne primes? What use is climbing Everest? What, cosmically speaking, is the point of the Mona Lisa?
Until quite recently there didn't seem to be much point in finding very large primes. Primes show up in all kinds of unexpected places so don't expect the use in cryptography (which depends on it being hard to find the factors of a product of two very large, unknown, primes) to be the last use.
Don't you (or anyone else) remember the laser being called a solution looking for a problem? And now look at the damn things, they're everywhere.
If you can't do something without it having an immediate and apparent application we'd live in a very boring world.
(*) For a given value of "easy".