Special Numbers

Do you know what a googol is? A googol is a very, very large number. 1.0 * 10100. Or, in long-hand…


I remember googol from some trivial bit of knowledge in my “math geek” high school days. I just stumbled across it again in my reading and it’s fascinating me. I’m reading all about natural numbers which are normal numbers like 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on. Not the supposedly unnatural numbers like 3.14159265. Decimals and fractions are straight out. The most natural are the prime numbers. Once you are a prime you are in a class of your own, however, there is even a pecking order in there with a variety of special types of primes. While it’s not a prime hunt, Sierpinski numbers are one example of this that I’m currently helping hunt for.

After stumbling on googol I had to try my favorite Google function ever, the Google Calculator. There is no connection between Google and googol other than sharing the same letters and both sounding like something a 8 month old baby may emit during feeding. I was not disappointed, Google Calculator let me know exactly what a googol is. The calculator even defies the 32-bit (or even 64-bit) world and at least pretends to tell me things like googol mod 154351. However, it has yet to give me a number that doesn’t evenly divide into a googol so I’m tempted to test it to see if it’s really doing it right. Maybe a prime number generator built off of Google? Would probably be really slow but could make a great article for Wired magazine. πŸ™‚

I now have a new favorite Google Calculator query (replacing the answer to life the universe and everything):

mass of the earth * (googol * speed of light) / pi

which it effortlessly tells me is

(mass of Earth * (googol * the speed of light)) / pi = 5.70099405 Γ— 10132 m kg / s

which is completely meaningless and entirely useless, but very fun.

Jamie Thingelstad @jthingelstad

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