10 to the power of 100
In 1938, a 9-year-old boy was asked by his uncle to think of a new word. As any kid his age would do, little Milton Sirotta reduplicated a single syllable to come up with a funny-sounding word: “googol”. His uncle, mathematician Edward Kasner, used it as a short way of describing a very large number: 10 to the power of 100 (that would be 1 followed by 100 zeros – too many to fit in this blog post). Althought the term “googol” bears no mathematical significance, it is useful in comparing vast quantities such as the number of subatomic articles in the visible universe or the number of possible chess games.
In 1996, a newly formed company needed a new name for their rapidly improving search engine, “BackRub”. The founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, then graduate students at Stanford University, were looking for an appropriate name for an immense amount of data. During a brainstorming session, Sean Anderson, a fellow graduate student sharing office space with Larry, suggested “googolplex”, a term also coined by Edward Kasner to describe “10 to the power of googol” or, as he put it, “one, followed by writing zeroes until you get tired”. Larry, however, opted for the shorter “googol”, and Sean immediately checked to see if that domain name was still available for registration and use. In performing the domain search, however, Sean, misspelled “googol”. A few hours later, on September 15, 1997, Sean’s spelling error would make world history as Larry and Sergei were registering “google.com” in the domain name registry database. The company also uses “Googleplex”, purposely misspelled this time, to describe its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Posted September 5, 2013
Filed Under: Blog