How is the Googolplex the Largest Number in the World, Who Invented it, and How Big is the Googolplex?

In order to calculate massive quantities, American Edward Kasner coined the “googol,” which is a one followed by one hundred zeros.

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But the “googolplex” is now the largest number and is a one followed by a billion zeros.

It allows us to calculate that the number of electrons passing through a forty-watt light bulb in a minute roughly equals the number of drops of water flowing over Niagara Falls in a century.

Edward Kasner’s nine-year-old nephew Milton Sirotta was the inspiration for the terms googol and googolplex in 1938.

Writing down a googolplex in numerals is physically impossible, because it would take up more space than the known universe.

Another reason why writing it down is impossible is because the time it would take is many times the age of the universe.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

6 thoughts on “How is the Googolplex the Largest Number in the World, Who Invented it, and How Big is the Googolplex?”

  1. The comment on the ‘gogolplex’ was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!
    “It can never be written down because it is bigger than the known universe?” There are approximately 6 billion people living on this planet. Wow I just wrote down a number on a peice of paper and guess what? I’m bigger than it! Yay!

  2. anonymous, if you converted all the matter and energy in the universe into ink and paper, then wrote in size 1 font (approx 0.3759mm, too small to be ledgible), you would run out of ink and paper about 1/10 of the way. It would be 4.7 * 10^69 (less than 1 googol) times the size of the whole universe if you somehow managed to find enough ink and paper. It’s unfathomably huge just to write all the zeros, nevermind the actual number’s value.

    Googolplex is 10 to the power of (10 to the power of the above number, Googol)

    Look up Graham’s number. Googolplex is #2 for the largest known numbers. Graham’s number is ridiculously huge, trumping googolplex by a long shot. Writing the exponents alone (to the power of…) in a text file would take up over 14MB of your harddrive, the actual number would be far more space than all the harddrives ever built (including ones that never/havent yet made it to consumers). A Googolplex would do this as well, but at a much smaller scale. Difference between Graham’s number and Googolplex, is Graham’s number has been used in practical mathematics (it made the guinness world record for it)

  3. @calvin “But the “googolplex” is now the largest number and is a one followed by a billion zeros” that is a billion and one charicters… there are over 6 billion people on this planet, are you really claiming that size one font takes up more space then a human?

    and the exponents form of a googolplex is 10^10^100

    the thing is there no natural examples of the number but writing it down is not impossible

  4. @David I don’t know who told you that a googolplex is 1 billion and 1 characters but your are sorely mistaken. A googolplex is a 1 and a googol amount of zeros so even if you were to write numbers the size of an atom you still would not have enough mass or energy in the universe to write a googol amount of zeros.

  5. Calvin, where did you get the 14mb figure from? as far as I’am aware Grahams number is far to large to be expressed even in exponents, to fit in the universe, let alone 14mbs of hard drive space.

  6. @Anonymous
    A googolplex is so huge, Mathematica didn’t even bother trying to calculate 10^(10^100)/7,000,000,000

    @soemthingggyyy
    A googol is 10^100.

    @David
    A googol is a thousand billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion. Now, imagine what will happen if
    10^googol

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