Number Theory

The Googol

  A googol = 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000


          A googol is a very large number. It is a 1 followed by a 100 zeroes, or 10100. The googol was thought of by a mathematician called Edward Kasner, but it was named by his nephew, Milton Sirotta, when Milton was nine years old. Mr. Kasner wrote that he was taking a walk with Milton when he asked his nephew to come up with the name. Milton not only came up with the name, he also came up with an even larger number, the googolplex. 

          The googolplex is equal to a googol100. James Newman, a mathematician and mathematical historian (yes, math has a history), wrote about the googolplex "that there would not be enough room to write it, if you went to the farthest star, touring all the nebulae [plural for nebula] and putting down zeros every inch of the way." Now, that is what I call a LARGE  number.

          Now, you would think that these unimaginably large numbers were thought of in the 21st century. But, they actually were thought of during the 1920s! As you may have noticed, one does not need 21st century technology, or know lots of math, or even be old to come up with amazing math stuff. Just think about nine year old Milton and his googolplex, and come up with some math stuff yourself!