“Google is a play on the word googol, which was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, Mathematics and the Imagination by Kasner and James Newman. It refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.
I first wrote about googols and googolplexes ten years ago in Software For Your Brain. This was the Third Edition of the book, published in Australia by Wrightbooks in 1997. The Chapter was called Tenpower.
UPDATE: The Australian Thinker of the Year 2007, Professor Jenny Graves, is featured in Nature Cover story on the 8th May, 2008 (Volume 453 Number 7192 pp133-256) …
“It’s probably the most eagerly awaited genome since the chimp genome because platypuses are so weird,” said Professor Jenny Graves of the Australian National University in Canberra. She is one of the co-authors of the study published in the scientific journal Nature.
“There was a fork in the road and the platypus went one way and humans and other placental mammals went another”, says the research leader Jenny Graves.
The ‘mammal lady’, who controversially claimed through her comparative genomics research that the male determining Y chromosome will become extinct, has been named Australian Thinker of the Year 2007.
The prestigious award, created by the School of Thinking in partnership with the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, is in its third year and was created to recognise the contribution Australian thinkers make globally.
This year’s winner, Professor Jenny Graves of The Australian National University (ANU) and Melbourne University, is one of Australia’s most influential scientists, renowned for her research into the function and evolution of human genes, particularly those responsible for determining a baby’s sex.Winner of the UNESCO Prize for Women in Science in 2006 and, in the same year, the Macfarlane Burnett Medal for Biology, Professor Graves is celebrated as a role model to women scientists and an inspiration to students of genetics.
But the now renowned scientist almost didn’t take on this line of work. She says she wasn’t interested in becoming ‘one of those Australians who end up working on the local fauna’.
“Over time it dawned on me that we have a genetic goldmine here; that kangaroos and platypus do things differently from placental mammals and that you can often figure out what the ancestral system was like from how the two systems differ.
“The genetic variation between such distantly related species is a very powerful way to discover new genes – in humans and all mammals – and figure out how they are turned on and off during development.”
She says it’s a career path she’s now very glad she ventured down. “Science is very exciting. It’s not easy but it’s incredibly exciting. It really grabs you and it doesn’t let you go. It’s a detective story and it’s an adventure story and you never know what’s going to happen next.”
Principal of the School of Thinking, Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, says for a small country we “think way above our weight.”
“The School of Thinking has taught more people to think than any other school in history. The contribution Australian thinkers make globally is disproportionate to our relatively small number of 21 million brains out of 6.5 billion.”
Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre chief executive Leigh Harry says the MECC is delighted to be involved in assisting with such a significant accolade. “Melbourne is the thinking capital, and leaders in the scientific, medical and research fraternities both here and internationally are looking to us to hold major conventions and meetings, helped by our increasingly growing reputation in this area. This award just adds to that.”
• Australian Thinker of the Year 2006
Professor Graves joins Professor German Spangenberg who was last year’s Australian Thinker of the Year in recognition of his innovations in pasture plant genomics and innovations for the benefit of agriculture.
Just imagine you owned the world’s most powerful iPod which could easily store a library of over 10,000 songs. Now, imagine you posessed only one Patsy Cline CD to load and play on your iPod.
There’s nothing wrong with Patsy but a diet of I Fall To Pieces and Your Cheatin’ Heart limits your long term music entertainment.
Similar limitations apply to your necktop computer if you only possess one brain software–logic–available for you to use.
Logic is useful enough for basic mathematics, labelling and mail-sorting and dealing with the past but it’s not nearly enough to help you cope with life and the challenges of the future.
THREE QUESTIONS (Write month/year in boxes)
1. Do you have access to a laptop, palmtop or desktop personal computer? If so, estimate when was the last time you added or upgraded the software?
2. Do you have a sound system—a CD player, a vinyl turntable or an iPod/MP3 player? If so, when was the last time you added a CD or abum to your library, or some tracks to your playlist?
3. Do you have a necktop computer—a brain? Yes, you do. When was the last time you added or upgraded your neuroware or brain software?
THINK ABOUT THIS
If you were educated in the Western education system—Europe, the Americas, Australia etc—the brain software you are using, logic, is 2500 years old.
The logic operating system was developed by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in Greece around 500 BCE. It was picked up by the Church via Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and embedded in its education system which was then spread, with missionary zeal, around the world. The Western education system, with its RIGHT/WRONG logic brain software, may be Europe’s greatest historical export.