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Googolplex / / ten-to-the-googol / 1010100

“Words of wisdom are spoken by children at least as often as by scientists. The name 'googol' was invented by a child (Dr Kasner's nine-year-old nephew) who was asked to think up a name for a very big number, namely, 1 with a hundred zeros after it. He was very certain that this number was not infinite, and therefore equally certain that it had to have a name. At the same time that he suggested 'googol' he gave a name for a still larger number: 'Googolplex'. A googolplex is much larger than a googol, but is still finite, as the inventor of the name was quick to point out. It was first suggested that a googolplex should be 1, followed by writing zeros until you got tired. This is a description of what would happen if one actually tried to write a googolplex, but different people get tired at different times and it would never do to have Carnera a better mathematician than Dr Einstein, simply because he had more endurance. The googolplex then, is a specific finite number, with so many zeros after the 1 that the number of zeros is a googol. You will get some idea of the size of this very large but finite number from the fact that there would not be enough room to write it, if you went to the farthest star, touring all the nebulae and putting down zeros every inch of the way.”

– Kasner and Newman. Mathematics and the Imagination. 1940

googolplex.txt · Last modified: 2007/06/10 15:57 by nik