Archive for March 5, 2012

Challenging your Imagination – Numbers

Have you even wondered what is the biggest number you will hear in your lifetime? Most people probably hear only about billions or , during the recent economic crisis, trillions as being the financial deficit of some country that spent way more than probably ever should. Theoretically it is possible to count to one billion, but humanly it is impossible for if you start counting today and you average a number a second, it will take you about 31 years, 251days, 7 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds to get to that one billion. So now imagine a trillion ?

Did it ever crossed your mind to think of a number bigger than the number of atoms forming your body, or even bigger than the visible universe? I admit that I never thought of such a number. Maybe if I was a mathematician…???!!! There actually is such a number and is 10 at the power of 100 or 1 followed by 100 zeros and it is called a GOOGOL! Yes, this number was actually at the base of the name for the internet giant GOOGLE. But this is just the beginning of me trying to twist and puzzle your mind.

There is an even bigger number used in mathematics. A number so big that if you ever want to write it in standard form it would require more space than the known universe provides. And the time which would be required to write such a number will be more that the age of the universe.It is challenging for anyone’s imagination but this number exists and it is called a GOOGOLPLEX and it is 10 at the power of 10 at the power of 100 .

But I am not finished here because there is more. Probably the biggest number that is known today it is a number for which mathematicians know only its last ten digits. Nobody knows the first countless digits of this number and yet it is the biggest number ever used in a serious mathematical proof. In 1980 was even introduced in the Guiness Book of World Records. This number is called Graham’s Number and it is so big that if you can imagine a googolplex number as one digit of another googolplex number at the power of googolplex you would still not account for even one digit of the Graham’s Number. It is a bit too much for our imaginations , isn’t it? I know it is for mine. But it is interesting nevertheless.

Going trough all these numbers and forcing and stretching my imagination to try to understand them helped me see why some people can find beauty in mathematics. Galileo Galilei said the universe has one language and that is Mathematical language. We apply mathematics every single day in everything we do for everything can be defined by mathematics. We use mathematics in visual arts like film and photography, plastic arts etc. There is even a mathematical equation for beauty called The Golden Ratio. Maybe mathematics is what is needed to understand everything !?


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