This is going to be one of those slightly confusing cross-over articles where I require you firstly to desert this page and read something that someone else has written. Specifically my old school friend and Thailand resident, Mike Vincent.
The back story is that in August 2010 Mike published a piece where someone had told him the odds of a particular event and I refuted his contention about what that (really big) number could be compared to.
The original can be found here: http://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/damien-on-double-yolk-eggs/ which kind of gives away what it was about but not to worry!
My response was this: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/high-numbers/ which if necessary I shall refer to as “HN1”
I then followed up with “HN2” here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/high-numbers-supplemental/ in order to correct an error in the first one and there matters were left until……
Last week Mike (on one of his two other blogs) posted this: http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/cornelius-on-big-numbers-2/ which got me back online to finish off the story where it was left after HN2 and to try to tie it in to Mike’s latest.
I stated at the end of HN1 that I thought we might need to start counting the total atoms in the entire universe in order to get anywhere near the target number of 10^90 (where ^ equals “to the power of” because I’m not sure WordPress can easily handle exponents the way they are usually written) but it turns out that I was almost as inaccurate with THAT as Mike was with his “grains of sand on Earth” guess in his first piece!
The current popular estimate that I found reference to is 10^87 but THAT is for the total number of sub-atomic particles in the universe – the number of atoms would be considerably fewer!
So, having still failed utterly at getting to the original 10^90 figure that I was trying to reach in HN1, where does that leave Mike’s new 10^600 that he’s thrown at me?
Well, it’s bigger than a “Googol” (10^100 – see HN2) but still further away from a “Googolplex (10^Googol) than a Googol is from zero so we are as yet nowhere near the field of study known as “Transfinite numbers” which is what mathematicians call really, REALLY, REALLY big numbers. And I STILL want to know if there is anything meaningful that 10^600 can be compared to.
I have in mind trying to ascertain the number of possible locations in the known universe for any one particle. Given that even with 10^87 sub-atomic particles swimming about in it, the universe is still mostly empty space there would seem to me to be quite a lot of such possible locations and we might be getting up to that sort of number. OR nowhere near – I just don’t know!
As far as finding proof though, the Internet has (for the moment) let me down so I think I’m going to have to do a degree course in Quantum Physics and work out for myself the volume of the universe and the number of particle-sized boxes contained in it!
Ah, but then there’s all this theoretical “Dark Matter” and the possibility that space curves back on itself to figure in!
Better make that a Doctorate in Quantum Physics then.
Of course, if you, the reader, want to chip in with some ideas, please feel free – just remember the thing that threw me at first; to multiply numbers with exponents you add the exponents together (i.e. 10^2 times 10^3 equals 10^5 NOT 10^6)