Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Biggest Number in the World

Column Eight (Sydney Morning Herald) mused a bit about what's the biggest number in the world. "There's no biggest number" said one reader ...

because you can always think of a big number, then double it.

And give it a new name. Like googolplexplex or something.

Column Eight suggest "Frank" to be one more than the largest number you can come up with; someone else suggested a "maximillion".

I suggest a "Jones". You can never quite keep up with the Joneses.

P.S. The Mathemagician and Milo were discussing this in The Phantom Tollbooth years before I came across it in Column Eight. The smallest number too - thinkof the smallest number you can think of - then halve it.


Mr Mean said...

When one can't keep up with the Joneses, announce and schedule one's retirement around election time.

TimT said...

I just bought a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth last week after years of missing my old favourite childhood copy. It's an awesome book.

Georg Cantor had some interesting musings about infinity as well. I can't find the simple explanation anywhere on the web after a quick search, but basically Cantor proved that if you add a number to an infinity of numbers, then the result will be equal to itself.


And conversely INFINITY - 8 = INFINITY

I don't know how it all works out not being a mathematician myself, but pretty interesting.

Maria said...

I'm not a mathematician (or mathemagician) either. But that sounds pretty interesting. So I guess that means if I've got an infinity of things, it doesn't matter if I'm forgetful and lose any stuff, and it means it won't have an effect if I earn more on top of that.

So if I have an infinity of things I've got a good excuse to not work and sit about blogging and reading all day?

Not that one needs an excuse, but it's good to have one handy. Just need an infinity of stuff at hand.

Maria said...

There are plenty of reasons why one should announce one's retirement well before election time: Pulling big numbers over the Australian public (and your deputy) could constitute one.