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What is a googol?


Date: 11/20/96 at 09:47:15
From: Anonymous
Subject: Googol

Dear Dr. Math,
	
We are trying to find out what the word googol means. 

Thank you.


Date: 12/11/96 at 21:55:06
From: Doctor Daniel
Subject: Re: Googol

Hi there,

A googol is the number you get when you take a one and follow it by 
100 zeros:

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. 

EEK!

How big is that?  VERY big.  Too big to imagine; it turns out that 
there are many fewer than a googol atoms in the universe, by a lot, in 
fact. So, if you tried to write a googol lines on a piece of paper, 
for example, you couldn't do it, because you'd run out of atoms to use 
as paper and pencil. (And it would take much longer than a lifetime to 
write all of it down.)

No one ever really cares about what to call numbers that big, 
actually. But they do matter; computers are all the time multiplying 
numbers that are actually MUCH bigger than googols. So the numbers 
matter, at that point, but the names don't really.

If you want to learn more about large numbers, look in our archives 
at:

  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.large.numbers.html   
and
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/tocs/large.elem.html   

Hope that answers your question!  Have fun!

-Doctor Daniel,  The Math Forum
 Check out our web site!  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Large Numbers

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