Ah numbers, we feel as though if its past ten we’re going to struggle to count, after all that’s the number of fingers we have. But if you stopped to think about it for just a second do you reckon there is a maximum number or would it just carry on forever and ever?
Okay, well the first problem is that even if we started counting now, we simply wouldn’t have enough time to count to a number close to infinity. Even just crunching the numbers proves that we couldn’t count as far as we might think, at least not when counting out loud. The oldest ever person was Jeanne Calment who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old and even if she devoted her entire life to counting she would have struggled to get to a huge number. If she started counting when most people learn to, around 3, and began counting non-stop except for sleeping and eating and took around three seconds for each number, she would have only got to 732463200. There is also the huge likelihood that you’d get bored way sooner than your 100th birthday.
To infinity and beyond
When you were a kid you might have played a game with your friends trying to think of the biggest number possible and eventually, some bright spark would say, “infinity!” To which the other person would reply, “infinity plus one!” This would then carry on for a long time until you added infinity plus infinity. But is infinity even a number? No, it’s really just a concept.
The longest number
The largest number given a commonly known name, like “billion,” “trillion,” or “trillion,” is known as a “googolplex.” where a million is followed by six zeros, a googolplex is followed by googol zeros. How many zeros in a googol did you say? One hundred!
The biggest number?
In reality, there is no biggest number, numbers are infinite, which means they just keep going and going. The googolplex is the largest number given a name, but in truth, there is nothing stopping somebody coming along and giving a name to an even bigger number. You can’t say there is a biggest because there is no highest number possible.
The longest ever number recorded has actually made it into the Guinness Book of Records. Graham’s number is the solution to a mathematical equation known as Ramsey theory, a complex question that yields an answer so large most mathematicians have trouble even comprehending the answer. Graham’s number is so big that it makes a googolplex seem like a child’s toy in comparison. To give it some kind of comprehensible value, Graham’s number is so large that if you took all the materials in the universe and converted them to ink there wouldn’t even be enough ink in the pen to finish writing the number.
So there we have it, the largest number in the world is Graham’s number, a number so large that it’s almost incomprehensible. If you don’t think you can explain Graham’s number to anyone, then we suggest going with a googolplex if you’re asked what the biggest number is, its just one hundred zeros after the one!