What Is a Googol?

Sounds like some strange animal or a creature from outer space, doesn’t it? But it’s neither of them. A googol is a number, a very large number. You are probably familiar with numbers such as:

1 + 6 zeroes = 1,000,000, one million

1 + 9 zeroes = 1,000,000,000, one billion

1 + 12 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000, one trillion

1 + 15 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000, one quadrillion.

But did you know that there are names for numbers larger than these?

1 + 18 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, one quintillion

1 + 21 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, one sextillion

1 + 24 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, one septillion

1 + 27 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, one octillion

1 + 30 zeroes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, one nonillion.

The largest number with a name, however, is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. That is a googol. It was named by the 9-year old nephew of a mathematician, who was explaining to the boy what that 1 with 100 zeroes after it looked like. When he asked the boy what that number should be called, the boy answered, a “googol.” And that name stuck!

This is what a googol looks like.

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.