Googols and Googolplexes

From Software For Your Brain (Wrightbooks 1997).


Chapter: Tenpower

The deliberate or habitual use of the number 10 is called Tenpower. Putting-on a zero is a powerful thing to do. It is the quintessential provocation. It’s purpose is to provoke movement through the cognos, to allow you to escape from your present position. It’s a bit like using a helicopter.

If you wanted to climb a mountain you might start from the bottom but then when you reach the summit you say, “Boy, if only we’d come that way it would have been easier!”

This is because the view from the top is different from the view at the bottom. If you had a helicopter you could fly to the top first, see the better way, and then go back and use it.

Quantum Leaps and Orders of Magnitude
Tenpower helps you make quantum leaps in your thinking. It empowers you to escape from inside the square. It enables you to use orders of magnitude to change your point-of-view. Then you can use that information if you choose.

Tenpower and Googols
When put on the end of a number, there’s no limit to the power of a zero!

How many grains of sand on Sydney’s famous Bondi beach? How many raindrops fall in Rio each year? What is the number of words spoken in Canberra or in Washington in a year, or even spoken by every American in history?

To cope with questions like these mathematicians need to design very, very large numbers. The American mathematician, Edward Krasner, has used the zero to design his very large number called: the googol.

A googol is a 1 with a hundred zeroes put-on. A googol looks like this:

10,000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000.

How large is a googol?
Well, the grains of sand on Bondi beach are about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 – 1 with twenty zeroes put-on. Much smaller than a googol. Raindrops in Rio are also much smaller than a googol and so are the words of America.

A hundred million atoms placed in a row would only be this long _____ , a centimetre. So what about the number of atoms in all of Mt Fuji or even the Alps? No, even they would not make a googol.

Einstein’s theories make it possible for astrophysicists to estimate the number of atoms in the whole universe and even that is less than a googol. In fact, a googol is larger than the very largest numbers used in physics and chemistry.

Well, can a we provoke a googol? Can we use tenpower on a googol? And the
answer is, of course, yes. For example, the googolplex is a larger number still: a googol with an extra ten million, billion zeroes put-on.

Forgive me if I won’t bother to show you what a googolplex looks like because if I were to try typing out a googolplex by adding zeroes to the above googol at the rate of three zeroes a second – 000 – and I never stopped to eat or sleep or do anything else, I would be dead and dust long before I got anywhere near it.

••• TIP: Take a few minutes for this special trip into Powers of Ten.


You can download your own copy of the latest edition of Software For Your Brain here. This book presents the ‘universal brain software’ which is currently the most powerful brain software in the world.


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