Big Numbers- Billions and Trillions
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Big Numbers

Big numbers

A 1 with one zero next to it means 1 multiplied by 10, or ten. A 1 with two zeros next to it means 1 x 100, or in exponents 102, or a hundred. A 1 with three zeros next to it means 1 x 1000, or 103, or a thousand. Ten is ten times bigger than one, and a hundred is ten times bigger than ten, and a thousand is ten times bigger than a hundred.

For larger numbers, the sequence goes like this:

The biggest numbers anyone has named are a googol, which is one with a hundred zeros after it (10100) and a googolplex, which is one with a googol zeros after it (10googol). A googol is so big that it is more than the number of atoms in the universe as far as we can see with telescopes (about 1080). A googolplex would be a lot more than that - there's no real number of things that comes anywhere near a googolplex. But those aren't the biggest possible numbers, because you could always say, "a googolplex plus one, a googolplex plus two," and so on. Numbers are infinite, so you never come to the end of them.

Bibliography and further reading about numbers:

More about Exponents
More about Math home

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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