Sunday, September 27, 2009

A story about a googol

In 1996, in Room 360 of the Gates CS Building at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were sharing their work space with other graduates, began calling their brand new search engine 'BackRub' inspired by the way it used the webs 'back links'. A year later when 'BackRub' was actually starting to look like something effective and sophisticated enough to share with the general public, a brainstorming session was called and 'googolplex' was suggested. A 'googol' is the name given to 10 to the power of 100. A 'googolplex' is 10 to the power of 'googol' or 1o to the power of in brackets 10 to the power of 100.

Are you still with me?

Mathmatician Edward Kasner's nine-year-old nephew Milton Sirotta suggested the term 'googolplex' to describe the number '1 followed by as many zeros as you can write until you get too tired to write any more'. His father, being a mathmatician and therefore prone to specifics, proposed the more formal definition. Milton's picture of a number so big it you run out of energy before you finish writing it- and so big there is not enough physical space in the universe to actually write it- is exactly what Page and Brin, the inventors of 'Google' (Larry Page wasn't the best speller) were looking for.

Google - a search engine big enough to be able to index an amount of data so big it makes you tired just thinking about it.

On September the 15th 1997 the name '' became a registered domain name.

Do you Google?


Natalie said...

I will never forget the staggering realisation of huge numbers, watching Carl Sagan roll out a piece of paper that took forever, to start to give an idea of how many zeroes there were in a googol plex...I was maybe 8 years old and entirely enchanted by the idea. I hope you don't mind; here is a link to the bit:

Tanya said...

Wow awesome vid thanx Natalie!! Mac is most impressed esp since he has spent the last two nights doing a googol (huge) of a maths assignment-lol

Connie said...

I don't know how we lived before Google? And how did I keep track of all my favorite websites and things before iGoogle?

I even used Google's home page apps yesterday to find some flash math games to help my son study for his math test today.

I have to admit though, the Google logo with the '11' in place of the 'L's really messed me up when I first saw it last night. For a moment I thought I'd been hacked or something. :D Fortunately I could look it up!

Jill said...

That's the only search engine I use!!