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. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

4 thoughts on “What Is a Googol?”

  1. There is a larger named number – a googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeros after it. This number is so large there isnt enough paper in the world to write it out!

  2. never mind enough paper in the world! there isn’t enough room in the entire universe no matter how small you tried to write it!

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