A googol is the large number 10^100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros (in decimal representation). The term was coined in 1920 by nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner. Kasner popularized the concept in his book Mathematics and the Imagination.
A googol is of the same order of magnitude as the factorial of 70 (70! being approximately 1.198 googol, or 10 to the power 100.0784), and its only prime factors are 2 and 5 (100 of each). In binary it would take up 333 bits.
The googol is of no particular significance in mathematics, but is useful when comparing with other incredibly large quantities such as the number of subatomic particles in the visible universe or the number of possible chess games. Kasner created it to illustrate the difference between an unimaginably large number and infinity, and in this role it is sometimes used in teaching mathematics. Indeed, it is not even a round figure. Its formal name is ten duotrigintillion.
The Internet search engine Google was named after this number. Larry Page, one of the founders, was fascinated with mathematics and "Googol," even during high school. They ended up with "Google" due to a spelling mistake.12
The word "google" or "googol," regardless of spelling, suggests the wide-eyed look of a baby, and the comic strip character Barney Google who began appearing in the 1910s.
A googol can be written in conventional notation as follows:
1 googol =
10,00 0,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,
000,00 0,000,00 0,000,00 0,000,000,00 0,000,000,
000,00 0,000,000,0 00,000,0 00,000,0 00,000,000
Its official English number name is ten duotrigintillion on the short scale, ten thousand sexdecillion on the long scale, or ten sexdecilliard on the Peletier long scale.
When it was named in 1920, the googol was undeniably large. However, with the invention of fast computers and fast algorithms, computation with numbers the size of a googol has become routine. For example, even the difficult problem of prime factorization is now fairly accessible for 100-digit numbers. However, computations of a googol steps are still completely out of reach
"Googol was the answer to the million-pound question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? when Major Charles Ingram allegedly attempted to defraud the quiz show on 10 September 2001."
"In one Peanuts strip, Lucy asks Schroeder what the chances are of them getting married, and Schroeder responds "about a googol to one."
"In an episode of the animated series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward," the "Gaminator" video games system is said to have a "3 googolhertz processor."
"A googol is precisely as far from infinity as is the number one."
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