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Research Roundup: New technique in obesity surgery

Upwards of 200,000 U.S. patients undergo surgery for the treatment of obesity each year.

Often this involves major abdominal surgery to restrict stomach size through surgical staples or a plastic band followed by a lengthy hospital stay and weeks of recovery.

The UC San Diego Center for the Future of Surgery recently performed the nation’s first “gastrectomy,” a less invasive “natural orifice” technique during which 80 percent of the stomach is removed, through the vagina, during a 75-minute procedure that leaves two millimeter-sized scars. Reduced stomach size leaves a patient feeling full after eating less, therefore, taking in fewer calories and losing weight.

Mammoth prime numbers discovered

A software technologist, who works in Del Mar, has played a major role in a 12-year, world-wide volunteer research effort to uncover the first prime number exceeding 10 million digits. A prime number is a number divisible only by 1 and itself.
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The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (“GIMPS”) hit the jackpot by announcing the two largest known prime numbers (one nearly 13 million digits long). Scott Kurowski receives credit for helping discover both prime numbers by developing GIMPS through which thousands of personal, business, and school computers around the world are linked, each crunching numbers during hours when processors would otherwise not be in use. The network has been running continuously since 1996 and performs 29 trillion calculations per second.

Now the search is on for the first 100 million digit prime number. Anyone can download free GIMPS software (www.mersenne.org/freesoft.htm) and become involved. Many school teachers have used the project to excite students about mathematics.