We talked about this a little bit in class last week, but GIMPS is basically a project to discover extremely large Mersenne prime numbers. Just as a reminder, Mersenne primes are prime numbers of the form 2^n - 1 where n is prime as well. GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) is a project made up of a bunch of volunteers who download a program onto their home computer that checks for new, incredibly large Mersenne primes. Currently, the record prime number found using this method is nearly 13 million digits long! I found the concept of GIMPS pretty interesting. This is just one example of something called distributed computing. Basically, an extremely large and time consuming task is split up among many different computers. With each computer taking care of a little piece of the task, a sort of super-computer is formed that takes care of the job much quicker than otherwise possible. One of my roommates is currently participating in a distributed computing project related to astronomy. I think it's pretty cool that someone can be a part of such interesting research without any in depth knowledge of the subject matter. If you're willing to run the program on your computer, you're helping mathematical research.

Here's some more information on GIMPS and distributing computing if anyone is interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Internet_Mersenne_Prime_Search

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_computing