• Main Menu
  • What is the Biggest Number?

    There really can’t be such a thing as the world’s biggest number because you can always add one more number to it. Assuming the largest number is 1 followed by a trillion zeroes, adding one more zero will make it even bigger.

    The Googolplex

    Scientists use the term googol or googolplex to describe very large numbers. A googol is the number 1 accompanied by 1 googol zeroes. That is 10 (10 x 100 zeroes). A googolplex can’t be written down like ordinary numbers. The reason is there isn’t enough space in the universe to allow it.

    The universe has 6 × 10 (followed by 83 zeroes) cubic inches. Even if the entire universe were filled with printed material consisting of zeroes, there’s still not enough space.

    Writing the world’s biggest number is impossible. Even if you write a couple of digits per second, it would take 1.51 x 10 (followed 92 zeroes) light years. That is much older than the universe.

    How much older? Multiply 1 1.1 x 10 followed by 92 zeroes. If you somehow managed to type a googolplex, you’ll need 20 trillion GB of hard disk space to file it.

    Other Comparisons

    If a googolplex were to be written down in a single point font, it would need 3.5 x 10 (with 96 zeroes) meters. The observable universe measures 2.74 x 10 (27 zeroes), so there isn’t enough space. Scientists estimate that one googol is bigger than all hydrogen atoms in space.

    Purpose

    The googol, indeed the world’s biggest numbers, has no specific role in math except to compare large numbers or quantities. A googol can be used to assess variation in chess moves or the number of atoms in all matter.

    Graham’s Number

    Graham’s number is the biggest one ever used in mathematics. It is also called G64. It is unimaginably bigger than the G1 or G2 which are already huge. Graham’s number is in fact bigger than any googolplex. Both Scientific American and the Guinness Book of Records have certified it as the biggest number ever used.

    Other candidates for the world’s biggest number can be at least approximated. Graham’s number can’t. Not only is the universe too small to write it down; it can’t even be approximated due to lack of space. Writing down numbers raised to the nth power will not even come close to describing it.

    In basic terms, Graham’s number is determined in 64 steps (hence G64). The calculation is performed using Knuth’s up arrow notation in the midst of three threes. This is done for G1 up to G64.

    It should be stated that G1 is already so large it cannot be described, written down or comprehended. The last numbers of Graham’s number are 2464195387.

    Recent studies have shown that there are possibly even bigger numbers that can be used in mathematical proofs. While the world’s biggest numbers may be overwhelming, they are still a fascinating subject matter. It reveals the complexity of numbers as well as the calculating power of the human mind.

    Entertainment and Sport