### Thinking big

For some time my six-year-old son has been obsessed with the googolplex (the impossibly large number, not the Googleplex, the corporate HQ for Google). He had a passing interest in infinity, but it was a little too abstract to hold his attention. But for him the googolplex has the virtue of making the incomprehensible mathematically concrete. And you know something, it

*is*a pretty friggin' big number:*A googol is greater than the number of particles in the known universe,which has been variously estimated from 10^72 up to 10^87. Since this is less than the number of zeroes in a googolplex, it would not be possible to write down or store a googolplex in decimal notation, even if all the matter in the known universe were converted into paper and ink or disk drives.*

Thinking of this another way, consider printing the digits of a googolplex in unreadable, 1-point font. TeX 1pt font is .3514598mm per digit, which means it would take about 3.5 * 10^96 meters to write in one point font.Thinking of this another way, consider printing the digits of a googolplex in unreadable, 1-point font. TeX 1pt font is .3514598mm per digit, which means it would take about 3.5 * 10^96 meters to write in one point font.

The known universe is estimated at 7.4 * 10^26 meters in diameter, which means the distance to write the digits would be about 4.7 * 10^69 times the diameter of the known universe.The known universe is estimated at 7.4 * 10^26 meters in diameter, which means the distance to write the digits would be about 4.7 * 10^69 times the diameter of the known universe.

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