High Numbers (supplemental)

10 Sep

I recently read through my previous post again (well, if I don’t read them who will?) and at one point thought to myself  “Hold on, that isn’t right!”

It was the point where I made what I thought was quite a clever remark about “google” being a large number and the spelling of the word didn’t seem to be right – I’ve always said I was better at words than numbers.

Sure enough it turns out that the number I was thinking of was a “googol” and I understand that it is another way of expressing 10^100 or 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

Now THAT number is, you will note 10^10 times as big as the number we were trying unsuccessfully to sneak up on in the previous article and I think it is so big that there is no  “oh that’s the number of …..whatever….. in the universe” that you can reasonably relate it to.

However, it has to be said that more people have probably heard of a “googolplex” than a “googol” and a googolplex is even bigger!

It is written as 10^googol or a 1 followed by 10^100 zeroes and quite what its purpose is in the great cosmic scheme of things I haven’t worked out yet! It seems to be a bit like the Wasp  – it’s there; it annoys a lot of people but no-one knows what it’s for!

I did once hear someone say (probably at a quiz) that it is the largest number there is!

Rubbish!  There’s “googolplex plus one” just for starters!

It may be the biggest number that anyone has bothered to give a commonly known name to but I recall from the Isaac Asimov article that I referred to earlier that there is something MUCH MUCH bigger still called “Skewes number”.

I don’t remember much about it except that it a) has something to do with calculating the largest possible prime number and b) made my head ache when I tried to understand it! For those reasons I don’t intend to re-visit it and if you want to find out, look it up for yourself! If you understand it you can post a comment explaining it to me.

You can’t say you don’t learn stuff on this page now can you?

Of course, whether you actually WANT to learn it is another matter.



Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “High Numbers (supplemental)

  1. Mike V.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:05 am

    I recall a teacher at Copleston Towers sparking a debate on whether or not a chap would REACH a wall, if he constantly HALVED the distance between him and it.

    I seem to recollect that it was ME who came up with the answer – which is YES – but only if you factor TIME into the equation. It will happen in an INFINITE number of minutes – PLUS ONE!!

    Har HAAAAR!!!

  2. littlealfie

    September 12, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    That explains why when I walk towards a low doorway I am halving my distance constantly as I approach.

    And why it doesn’t take an infinite amount of time for me to hit my ruddy head on it!

    I must say I preferred the eighty minutes we spent with old Bunter pretending not to understand how a line of six lampposts could only have FIVE spaces between them!

    I enjoyed that – it made up for the miserable old git confiscating my Superman comics!



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