The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

How Many Zeros in a Googolplex?

Date: Fri, 4 Nov 94 10:22:19 EST
From: Barbara Jackson
Subject: Googolplex

This is a question from Mrs. Jackson's 6th grade math class.  We 
understand what a googol is, but how many zeros are there in a 
googolplex? We don't get it! Help!

Barb Jackson
C.W. Otto Middle School
Lansing, MI 48906

From: Dr. Sydney
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 11:12:17 -0500 (EST)

Hello to Mrs. Jackson's 6th Grade Class!

Thanks for writing with your math question! Your question about
the googolplex is an excellent question. You know that a googol 
is a 1 with a hundred zeroes behind it, right? We can write a 
googol using exponents by saying a googol is (10)^(100)  If you 
think about this it will make sense: a 1 with one zero behind it 
is 10 = 10^1, a 1 with two zeroes behind it is 100 = 10^2, a one 
with three zeroes behind it is 1000 = 10^3, you see the 
pattern? What would a one with 28 zeroes behind it be in terms of 
powers of ten?. 

Well, a googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeroes behind it. Another 
way to think about this is that it is a 1 with (10)^(100) zeroes 
behind it. Expressing a googolplex using exponents we can say that 
a googolplex is :

So a googolplex is a really really big number relative to what we 
usually consider to be "big" numbers in everyday life. However, a 
googolplex does not come anywhere close to approaching infinity, 
which is HUGE! Have you ever studied or thought about infinity?  
You might want to talk about what infinity is - it is a neat concept 
in math.  

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to 
write back. We hope to hear from you again soon.

--Sydney, Dr. "Googol" Math

Date: Fri, 4 Nov 94 12:23:54 EST
From: Barbara Jackson

Thanks for the prompt reply!  The kids have the afternoon off, 
but this will certainly give them food for thought on Monday.  
Have a great weekend!

Barb Jackson
C.W. Otto Middle School
Associated Topics:
Elementary Large Numbers

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.