Tag Archives: googolplex

Can a number be bigger than anything you can count?

It’s Talking Math with Your Kids week here on OMT.

We’ll get started with a favorite topic: large numbers.

My son Griffin was thinking about large numbers in the car the other day. He was trying to figure out what good it is to have a number (here, googolplex, which for the record is 10^{10^{100}}) that is larger than anything you can count.

Griffin: If you put all the things [in the world] together, would that make googolplex?

Me: No.

G: Even if it’s nanoinches?

Me: Nope. Still not googolplex.

G: Even if it’s half-nanoinches?

G: Even if it’s all of the seconds of the world being alive?

Me: Nope.

G: Even if all the seconds of the universe existing?

Me: No.

I love the developing proportional reasoning embedded in Griffin’s questions.

For each example, he scales it up when his first try doesn’t do it.

If nanoinches don’t work, surely half-nanoninches will! Plenty still to learn about orders of magnitude, I’m afraid.