Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From the Email Inbox - New World's Largest Cupcake

Record holder: Duff Goldman

Location: Mall of America, Minneapolis

March 30, 2008

The Food Network's Duff Goldman lives up to his Ace of Cakes title by baking the largest cupcake in history — now entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. The 61.4-pound creation is more than a foot tall and entirely edible. Reportedly 150 times the size of a regular cupcake, this record-breaker called for 16 pounds of butter, 10 pounds of sugar, and three ounces of food coloring. The mammoth confection supported the Great American Bake Sale, which raised $10,000 and awareness for Share Our Strength, a charity working to fight hunger across America.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Google Image: World's Largest Stove, Detroit Michigan

at the Fairgrounds, N42.44055 W83.11896

1964 World's Fair

At nine a.m. on April 22, the gates of the Fair were thrown open. In the subsequent ugly rush for enlightenment, few visitors spared a thought for the months and months of unremitting toil that had made the whole thing possible. Indeed, some people (below) were unabashedly out for all they could get.

Drawing by Robert Serle Source: HOLIDAY MAGAZINE, Vol. 36 No. 1, June 1964

World's Largest Prime to Date - over a million numbers long!

Editor's note: This story was originally posted on Science News online as a Math Trek column September 20.

Here's a number to savor: 243,112,609-1.

Its size is mind-boggling. With nearly 13 million digits, it makes the number of atoms in the known universe seem negligible, a mere 80 digits.

And its form is tidy and lovely: 2n-1.

But its true beauty is far grander: It is a prime number. Indeed, it is the largest prime number ever found.

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, a computing project that uses volunteers' computers to hunt for primes, found the prime and just confirmed the discovery. It can now claim a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for being the first to find a prime number that has more than 10 million digits.

Prime numbers make up the "periodic table" of numbers, the building blocks that combine to form all numbers. A prime number is a whole number divisible only by 1 and itself. Euclid in 300 B.C. proved that there are infinitely many of them (click for his beautifully simple proof). Still, that doesn't make them easy to find. At the beginning of the number line, the primes seem to be everywhere — 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13… — but in the number line's more distant reaches, prime numbers become elusive.

Because 243,112,609-1 has the form 2n-1, it's called a "Mersenne prime," after a French monk born in the 16th century who made an (incorrect) conjecture about them. Mersenne primes are of particular interest partly because they can be expressed in such a compact form. (It sure is easier to write 243,112,609-1 than to type out all 13 million digits!) More significantly, though, some clever methods have been developed to identify them.

The most obvious way to go about identifying any prime number is to try factoring it. First, try dividing by 3, then 5, then 7, etc., and if none of them work, you've got a prime. But the last time a new prime was identified this way was in 1588, because as the numbers get bigger, the division takes longer and longer. So mathematicians have developed clever tests for primeness that are simpler to compute. The best one of all, called the Lucas-Lehmer test, only works for Mersenne primes. Remarkably, the method requires no division at all, making it extremely quick.

Only 46 Mersenne primes have ever been found, and GIMPS has found 12 of them. The project recruits volunteers to donate their computers' CPU cycles when they would otherwise be idle. Each computer works on a single number, first trying to find small factors. If that fails, it applies the Lucas-Lehmer test. A computer working full-time can test a single 10-million-digit number in eight days.

The processing power of all the individual computers linked together is equivalent to one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. No supercomputer, though, would devote all its processing time to computing prime numbers.

The finding is unlikely to have significance for number theory, although number theory's great unanswered question, perhaps, is to find how the prime numbers are distributed. Still, "you never know where discoveries may lead you," says George Woltman, founder of GIMPS. "But really, it's like climbing Mt. Everest. You do it because it's there. It's a lot safer, though. You can do it from the air-conditioned comfort of your home."

Or, if you prefer, the air-conditioned comfort of your office. The computer that found the prime was administered by Edson Smith at the University of California, Los Angeles mathematics department. Smith downloaded the GIMPS software, and when the computers in the math department weren't busy with other work, they searched for primes and communicated their results back to GIMPS.

This prime is the eighth found at UCLA, although the first with GIMPS. Half the prize money will go to the UCLA math department, a quarter will go to charity (probably a math department with an open faculty position for number theory, Woltman says) and most of the remainder will go to those who found previous Mersenne primes using GIMPS.

Remarkably, GIMPS found another Mersenne prime two weeks after this one – after a two-year dry spell with no new primes. This prime had fewer digits, just 11 million.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation became interested in prime hunting because it makes an excellent challenge problem for cooperative, distributed computing. "The award is an incentive to stretch the computational ability of the Internet," says Landon Noll of Cisco Systems Inc., one of the judges for the Electronic Frontier Foundation prize and a discoverer of a former biggest known prime. More prizes remain to be claimed: a $150,000 award for a prime with 100 million digits, and a $250,000 award for one with a billion digits.

GIMPS has used well-established methods, while continuing to refine its implementations for greatest efficiency. Finding the numbers for the larger awards, though, will require major innovations, Noll says: "People are going to have to go back to the drawing board." He points out that testing a single 100-million–digit number for primeness would take a single desktop computer more than four years, and testing a billion-digit number would take it more than 500 years. So at a minimum, he says, algorithms will have to be developed that allow multiple computers to test a single prime.

Current cryptographic systems rely on the challenge of factoring large primes. This task is distinct from verifying primeness, but the root difficulty is the same: limited computing power. Through this prize, "we maintain a pulse on what people might be able to do in breaking cryptosystems," Noll says.

Friday, September 26, 2008

German Car Club of Kansas Show Tomorrow! Salina!

Celebrate the Gerstenslagers and Weinermobiles of the Kansas German car club at Thomas Park... We're going with a Japanese Exchange entry, the WLT Scout vehicle...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WLT Doin's

WLT Shameless Self Promotion, going strong...
We just folded 150 newsletters for inclusion in packets for the German Car Club show in Salina Kansas this Saturday.  Yes, we are members, since the Gerstenslager SOUNDS German (it's made in Ohio) AND there's a tie to the Weinermobile (from Madison Wisconsin, but c'mon!  It's got Wiener in the title!). 
Also, we've been answering email questions about World's Largest, including Czech egg for Wilson KS, a man contemplating building the World's Largest Brochure, and receiving some great images of World's Largest from across the US.
We're also getting together a Members Only Update, and printing cards with renewal reminders.  Magnets, Mini Moo, and so much more to come...  Yay, sap of Fall!
-EN & RW

From the Email Inbox: Giant Spud, Diggs ID, and Scholastic interest


I stopped by back in June and took some photos for a book I'm working on here at Scholastic. One of the math editors is interested in doing a possible article on your miniatures for an upcoming issue (I think it's to do with proportions or something). His name is Matt Friedman and he'll probably be contacting you soon to get some info if that's ok.

It was good to meet you and I owe you a print (sorry I'm a little behind). It looks like I may be doing some sort of book soon, not exactly the one I had pitched, but it's a start. I was just recently out in Idaho and stopped by the giant beagle in Cottonwood. Really nice couple that run the place and make chainsaw dog art. I asked if they've met you but they said no, perhaps you haven't made it there yet. Another highlight was the giant potato on a flatbed (see attached) which was in Diggs at the Spud Drive In movie theater.

I'll keep you posted on the book's progress. I'd love to include your work as well.


David Franck
Group Photo Editor
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, #466
New York, NY 10012


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wolrld Largest Czech Egg Wilson Kansas

Subject: wolrld largest czech egg

Hi, I talked to you about a year ago about the worlds largest czech egg. We are proceding with the project and maybe you could give me some info.You took a czech egg and cropped it in on Wilson's main street and it looks great, but I don't remember the dimensions of what our egg would have to be. If you have a minute, contact me and we can go from there.
Thanks, so much for your help.
Sharon Holloway.
Pres. Wilson C of C
Re:  World's Largest Czech Egg, Wilson Kansas
Hi there - I'm so excited you're pursuing this project!
So far, there are two other eggs in the US, and one very large one in Canada.  None of these are Czech eggs, although the Canadian one is a Russian decorated egg (World's Largest )
US eggs:  Winlock Washington's is 12 feet long, mounted on a 10 foot pole. Mentone Indiana's is 10 feet high, on the ground
The Canadian egg is huge - 25 and a half feet long, 18 feet wide.
Here's a good page with descriptions of them all:
Hope this helps, and let me know what else I can do!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Lonely Planet Tourists!!

Two Swedish tourists, from Sklleftea and Hallstavir, came by Lucas today because Lonely Planet USA told them to.
As the highlighted text says:
And surely nothing will surprise and amaze you as much as the oddball art community of Lucas, which is worth going way out of your way to see.
That's in the introductory paragraph to the Kansas section!  Thanks, Lonely Planet writers and editors, for including our offbeat town.  It really makes a difference...

Monday, September 22, 2008

From the Email Inbox: Early Big Well Postcard, Greensburg Kansas

The Big Well (World's Largest Hand-Dug, that is...) in Greensburg has been a marketing tool since shortly after it was dug.  Here's yet another (and quite rare!) Photo Postcard of the 1880s feat of engineering and Kansas hutzpah.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From the Email Inbox: WL Table made from One Plank, Vero Beach, FL

Unfortunately, the World's Largest Table made out of One Piece of Lumber is no more...  formerly of the Mckee Botanical Garden

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gerstenslager Information Pages

Here's some of the best information yet on Gerstenslagers, with history and a great lineup of images.  We keep coming up on other people's searches on this mysterious coach line, and we're glad to know there's a network of other interested!
And, a Flickr page from one of the most recent info request people, who spotted a very bizarre RVish Gerstenslager:

Worlds Largest Things information request

From: Javan Dunken
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 10:43 PM
Subject: SPAM -> Worlds Largest Things

To whom it may concern;

I travel around the USA..

Is there a book I can by so I can have access to the Worlds Largest Things 24 7.

Keep me updated on Worlds Largest Things.

Have A Great Day!

C/O Dunken's Hauling Marysville, Ks.

Hi, Javan - sorry for the delay!
There are a few published resources for WLTs, but not one, giant comprehensive one that lists them by state with addresses... 
Two of the best would be Brian and Sarah Butko's "Roadside Attractions" published in 2007, as it has a big list of addresses in the back, and then "The New Roadside America" although it was published in 1992. 
Amazon links on our book recommendation page:
When I travel, I usually print out the Big List of Whats Large Where and keep it with my atlas - then, at least, I know what to be looking for in each town, although would still have to do some asking around.
I'll letcha know if/when we do a big travelers list of sites listed by state with addresses - as a professional traveler, what information would you find helpful?
Thanks for the inquiry, and hope this helps...
-Erika Nelson, Director
World's Largest Things, Inc.

Business items being checked off

It's been a nice sunrise, slowly getting through the email backlog from the Society for Commercial Archeology conference absense. 
So far, we've located an online copy of Erika's thesis:
although it is much better in the print version bound at the University of Kansas archives - more images, and better layout. 
Lots of information replys on through the website, and posting pics to the WLT Flickr Photo blog. 
Next up, producing some Members Only communication postcards and renewal reminders. 
Thanks for your support, and keeping the stories rolling in...
-EN & RW

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Society for Commercial Archeology Conference, Albuquerque NM

Great conference, people, sights, and networking!  We're back from the 3 day SCA conference, with some additional travel and WLT spotting along the way.  Posting pics on the Flickr Photo Blog which will show you lots of people taking lots of picture of roadside relics and architecture.
Thank you, Kansas Arts Commission, for making part of this trip possible, and an extra special Thank You to our New Mexico hosts for their hospitality.
(Insiders tip - the new Natnl. Museum of Nuclear Science and History will most likey feature a W.L. Atom as part of their sign - woo hoo!!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

From the SnailMail Inbox: Santa Claus Indiana

Even more Santas from Santa Claus Indiana.  We have other pics of some fiberglass from the recent visit on the Flickr photo blog, too...

From the Snail Mail Inbox: 1933 Worlds Fair Thermometer

There are a fair amount of WLTs left over from various Worlds Fair exhibitions - here's another!  From Havoline, a WL Thermometer.  Don't know if any of these parts were preserved or relocated....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

World's Largest Ball of Guitar Strings!

Don the Camera Guy from Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations brought by his World's Largest Ball of Guitar Strings, right before the Kansas Humanities Council WLT lecture at the Lawrence Public Library.
This is why I love my job...
Ball - 33+ pounds, and growing.  We're thinking the smallest mandolin strings will be appropriate for the World's Smallest Version...
Thanks, Don , for bringing it by!
-EN, WLT Inc.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Member packet #107 out today...

We're in the middle of office-type items this week, including gathering materials for writing a strategic plan and financial organization, looking into a good source for QuickBooks Non-Profit, and making sure member communications are progressing. And, the first of the Newly Designed Tees went out to our newest member #107! That's the advantage of stopping by in person - no need to wait for the snail mail image and order form...

Also, catching up on posting Weekly What's Large Where on the members only section of the blog - if you don't have access, let us know and we'll add your email to the 'can-read' list. The blog contains all of the WWLW columns for the last two years, and we're readdressing titles so they're searchable.

Up next, a KHC Speakers Bureau lecture in Lawrence KS, at the public library, 2:30 p.m., then off to the Society for Commercial Archeology conference in Albuquerque NM next week.

Keep on Living Large, WLT members and fans!
-EN, dir., WLT Inc.

Home of White Castle

Yay!  Another World's Largest Thing found while trolling the internet - the headquarters for White Castle, found off of Goodale Street in Columbus Ohio, has a giant WC sack over the office doors!  A new must-see... I wonder if the whole place smells of onion and tiny burger grease?
Found on a dangerous site that chronicles abandoned amuseument parks and the like, in their Old vs. New section:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Freelance Journalist interview

Today started off on a great note - a 45 minute interview with freelance journalist Danny Freedman. Formerly writing for LIFE magazine, he pitched the story idea last year just as the magazine folded. Luckily, story ideas never die, and Danny contacted us again to check up on new progress, future plans, and some background information to make some new pitches in the coming months.

Thanks, Danny, for a good conversation and your interest in World's Largest Things!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Connecting to Collections Bookshelf from IMLS

World's Largest Things, Inc., successfully applied for and received an invaluable resource from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The giant box of books and DVDs were awaiting me when I got home today, and it's an amazing set of how-tos, best practices, legal and method hints at preserving your collection and making it accessable to the public.

Thanks so much, IMLS, for distributing the collection!

Partners include the Getty Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Samuel H Kress Foundation, with partners Heritage Preservation and the Ammerican Association for State and Local History.

Now, to crack some spines and further develop the long-term care plans for World's Largest Things Ephemera, resources, images, and the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things!

-Erika Nelson, Director
World's Largest Things, Inc.

Pam @ Worlds Largest Frying Pan, Brandon IA


I appreciate your site, as we are always looking for an unusual ride destination. I am though disappointed to see that our latest visit to a Worlds largest was not on the website. The Worlds Largest Frying Pan, found in Brandon, Iowa should be added to the site. Not sure what the rules are to adding it, but I would be interested in hearing back from you.

Thank you, Pam - I just wrote an article for the Iowa pan, as another fan wrote in with information - it will be added to the Iowa list today!  Thanks for the image, too - it really adds scale.
Thanks again, and please let me know of other 'missing' World's Largest you pass along the road!
-Erika Nelson, Director
World's Largest Things, Inc.