Interesting numbers --- zero --- one --- complex --- root 2 --- golden ratio --- e --- pi --- googol --- infinity

Using powers of ten is a good way to describe large numbers. A mathematician and his young nephew once wanted to describe a very big number, so they invented the googol. This is 10^{100}, which can be written as a one followed by a hundred zeroes (a million is a one followed by six zeroes). This is bigger than the number of atoms in the universe. Click on the button to see a googol written out in full.

However, the young boy wanted an even bigger number. He suggested carrying on writing zeroes until you were too tired to write any more. But the mathematician pointed out that wasn't fair, as some people would get tired before others. He suggested 10^{googol} and they called it the googolplex. A googolplex truly is gigantic! No-one could manage to write it out in full, although you can express it as a power of ten. It still isn't the biggest possible number (how about a googolplex + 1?)

By the way, you may find the name of 'googol' familiar. The inventors of the Google search engine used the name, but they spelt it wrong!

© Jo Edkins 2007 - Return to Numbers index