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  • Millions and Billions and More (Oh My!)

    We sometimes describe 1,100 as eleven hundred instead of one thousand, one hundred because it is easier to say. Just as 800 is equal to 8 x 100, 1,100 is 11 x 100.

    A million is a thousand, thousand or 1000 x 1000 or 106. A billion is a thousand million or 109 and a trillion is a thousand billion or 1012.


    Scientists theorize that the earth is 4.6 billion years old. That means it is 4,600,000,000 years old. We can also say that the earth is 4,600 million years old. This is a very large number. 4.6 billion inches is equal to 72,601 miles. A piece of string 72,601 miles long could be wound around the earth at the equator three times.

        hundreds     102     100
        thousands     103     1,000
        millions     106     1,000,000
        billions     109     1,000,000,000
        trillions     1012     1,000,000,000,000
        quadrillion     1015     1,000,000,000,000,000
        quintillion     1018     1,000,000,000,000,000,000
        sextillion     1021     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        septillion     1024     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        octillion     1027     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        nontillion     1030     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        decillion     1033     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        undecillion     1036     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        duodecillion     1039     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        tredecillion     1042     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        quattuordecillion     1045     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        quindecillion     1048     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        sexdecillion     1051     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        septendecillion     1054     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        octadecillion     1057     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        novemdecillion     1060     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
        vigintillion     1063     1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000


    Mr. Donn has an excellent website that includes a section on Prehistory.

    Googol and Googolplex

    In his 1940 book Mathematics and the Imagination, Edward Kasner coined a word for the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. Mathematical terms are often derived from ancient Greek or Roman words, but Kasner asked his nine-ear old nephew, Milton to name a very big number. Milton’s word was Googol. Milton added that a googolplex was “one, followed by writing zeros until you get tired.” His uncle decided on a more formal definition of a googol as 10 raised to the power of a googol.

    In 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were searching for names for their new search engine. They wanted an Internet domain name that was not taken. As they brainstormed ideas, they considered Kasner’s term. A friend of Page and Brin confirmed that Kasner’s word was available, but misspelled it. This is how Google was named.

    When Page and Brin constructed a corporate headquarters for their business, they named it “the GooglePlex.”

    Sergey Brin and Larry Page
    Sergey Brin (left) and Larry Page (both born 1973) are the founders of Google.

    Previous: Prehistory: A Long Time Ago Next: Ancient Technology
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