Browse Definitions:

googol and googolplex

Contributor(s): Lawrence Lea

A googol is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 followed by 100 zeros). A googol is larger than the number of elementary particles in the universe, which amount to only 10 to the 80th power.

The term was invented by Milton Sirotta, the 9-year nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner, who had asked his nephew what he thought such a large number should be called. Such a number, Milton apparently replied after a short thought, could only be called something as silly as a "googol."

Later, another mathematician devised the term googolplex for 10 to the power of googol - that is, 1 followed by 10 to the power of 100 zeros. Frank Pilhofer has determined that, given Moore's Law (which is that computer processor power doubles about every 1 to 2 years), it would make no sense to try to print out a googolplex for another 524 years - since all earlier attempts to print a googolplex out would be overtaken by the faster processor.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, named their search engine after the term googol. In 1997, Larry was brainstorming names with other Stanford graduate students, including Sean Anderson, and looking at available domain names. Anderson miskeyed googol as "google" and found it available. Larry liked it and the name "Google" stuck. Google's corporate headquarters is called the GooglePlex, an affectionately tongue-in-cheek reference to the origins of the company name.

This was last updated in December 2006

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As far as I can see, it will never be possible to print out the number googolplex, at least not in our usual number system. Why? Because googolplex has a googol digits (or maybe a googol + 1). Since we know that there are not even a googol of elementary particles, there would be no place to "print" most of the digits.
A googol is larger than the number of elementary particles in the "observable" universe, which amount to only 10 to the 80th power. Observable, is an important touch in this context.
The article says that a googolplex is " 1 followed by 10 to the power of 100 zeros," which is meaningless. 10 to the power of 100 or even a thousand zeros is just 1. What they mean is 1 followed by a googol zeros.

Can you please tell me the calculation as I am not able to understand the concept of Googolplex.
The writer has the definition of Googol Plex wrong, what he should of said is 1 x 10 ^ googol or [1 x 10 to the (10^100)]
After reading the article - the way I understand this is...

google     is 10 ^ 100
googleplex is 10 ^ 10000-->one hundred zeroes in here-->0000...00000

Am I seeing that right?


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