One of the first questions that kids often ask is “What is the biggest number?” This question is an important step in transitioning to a world of abstract concepts. The answer is of course that numbers are generally considered endless, but there gets to be a point were numbers become so big that there really is no point in having them, they have no real importance outside of the fact that yes technically they do exist. To make a list like this I could simply write down a massive number for the first number, and then write +1, +2, +3 and so on for the rest of the list. Instead I chose to take out 10 numbers that do have some effect on the world and place them in ascending order, giving a brief explanation as to what they are and how they have some relevance on the world, albeit very small relevance, especially when compared to the size of the number itself.
Ten to the eightieth power – a 1 with 80 zeros after it – is quite massive but somewhat tangible at least from a relatively concrete point of view. This is the estimated number of fundamental particles in the known universe, and with fundamental particles we’re not talking about microscopic particles, we’re talking about much smaller things like Quarks and Leptons – subatomic particles. The name for this number in U.S. and Modern British is “One Hundred Quinquavigintillion” I would write out phonetically how to pronounce that but I don’t have a clue. The concept of the amount of such small things and how many of them make up the entire universe may seem overwhelming, but it is the smallest and easiest to understand of the numbers on this list.
9 One Googol
The word googol, with a slightly different spelling, has become a frequently used verb in modern times, thanks to a highly popular search engine. The number has an interesting history which you can find by simply googling it. The term was coined by Milton Sirotta in 1938 when he was 9 years old. Although this is a relatively abstract number, only existing for the fact that it technically exists, but it does come up occasionally in other uses.
Mental Calculator Alexis Lemaire set a world record for calculating the 13th root of a 100 digit number, the 13th root of 8,192 is 2, or 2 times itself thirteen times, 100 digit numbers are googols, one of the numbers that Lemaire had calculated would have read (3 googol, 893 Duotrigintillion, ext, ext.) Another use is from about 1 to 1.5 googol years after the big bang, the most massive black holes will have exploded. These will be the last recognizable structure of our universe to disintegrate, and once it does the universe will enter its 5th and final era – known as the Dark Era – the end of the universe based on certain scientific models.
8 8.5 x 10^185
A Plank length is extremely small, approximately 1.616199 x 10-35 meters, or in long form 0.00000000000000000000000000000616199 meters. There are about a googol of them in a 1 inch cube. Plank length and Plank volumes are important in quantum physics branches like string theory – evidently sizes this small allow the extra dimensions to be detected, at least in some theories. How do all these small things apply to the third smallest number of this list? There are approximately 8.5 x 10^185 plank volumes in the universe. This number is both massive and its practical purpose relatively non-existent, however it is still simple compared to the rest of the numbers on this list.