googology (what?, what is that?)

For Age Group: grade 3 & up

Hey everyone, and welcome to my blog – again!

This time, let’s start with a question: What’s the largest number you can think of? (No, saying infinity is not allowed). A million? A billion? A trillion? If you wanted to, you could start with a 1 and write zeros until you get tired, and that could be your answer.  But think: There are probably smarter ways to do this. One way would be to only write 9s until you get tired, making your number bigger. Now let’s say you don’t want to keep writing until your hands get tired. You could use multiplication, so instead of writing 1000000, you could write 1000 *1000.

This is the principle of googology: coming up with smart ways to make bigger numbers. For example, some older readers might have thought of using exponents.(For those of you who don’t know about exponents, think about how multiplication is repeated addition. Exponents are like that, meaning they are just repeated multiplication, and they tell you how many times to use a number in multiplication, just like 3*2 is 3+3, 3^2 is 3*3. Another example would be how just like 5*3 is 5+5+5, 5^3 is 5*5*5).

So how did I get interested in a relatively obscure field like googology? It all started when I was young, and I had come across a webpage explaining Graham’s number (You can research Graham’s number on your own, asking your parents for permission first, of course, but to put it in simple terms, it’s really, really big). I was fascinated by the idea of a number that insanely large and started wondering if there were bigger numbers. This led me into a spiral where I discovered a wiki made specifically for googology, and started learning more about it. (I actually got the idea for this blog by finding something I wrote about googology in my third grade notebook, next to the word “quack” repeated over and over again).

So why would you learn googology? Later in life, you might encounter some particularly hard math problems, and you’re going to end up with a really big solution and so you’d need to know a way to notate that. In addition, searching for the largest number can help hone your math skills and help you discover new principles that you might use later. For example, some of you probably learned about exponents by reading this blog about googology.

By the way, this is the video that started my obsession with googology:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTeJ64KD5cg&feature=youtu.be

And for your amusement, this is a joke article about googology: https://sites.google.com/site/largenumbers/home/appendix/e/easter (Don’t worry if you don’t recognize some words, or you see a fact you don’t think is correct; a lot of words are made up, and it is just a joke.)

Also, googology wiki page: http://googology.wikia.com/wiki/Googology_Wiki

 

Have a great summer everyone. Hope you are enjoying the good weather so far.

Om Desai