Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for . . .

This month I'm posting Mad-Cool-Math nuggets.

 Image courtesy: m.a.r.c.

I is for infinity.

Infinity is not a number. It is an idea, one of an endless, boundless, never-ending . . . something.

It's bigger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth. It's bigger than all the stars in the universe. So if you try to think of infinity as a really big number consider this: a Googol (no, I didn't misspell Google, whoever came up with our favorite search engine did the misspelling) is a 1 followed by 100 zeros.

A Googol is bigger than all the elementary particles in the known universe. (Math is Fun) But it is not the biggest number, because you can have more than a hundred zeros after a 1; you can have a Googol of zeros! That's a Googolplex, which sounds like a good place to see a lot of movies. And that isn't the biggest number either. You can't ever get to the biggest number, because if you did, you could add 1 to it. There is no biggest number. There is infinity.

One of the cool things about infinity is that even though it's not a number, there are different sizes of infinity. Yes, you read that right. Think of the natural numbers starting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and so on. These numbers will never end. They are infinite, but you can count them, so that size of infinity is called countable.

Compare the natural numbers to real numbers. Real numbers include the natural numbers, plus all the decimals like 1/2, 1/4, the square root of 2, and pi. Between the natural numbers 1 and 2 alone, there are an infinite number of real numbers! You can't count the real numbers, so they are called uncountable. Wild, huh?

So next time you watch one of Disney's Toy Story movies and Bud Lightyear says, "To infinity and beyond!", go ahead and call Bud an idiot. You can't go beyond that which has no end. Or can you?


Today is the last day to download my novella, Ursa Major, for free. This is a coming-of-age tale based on a nightmare I had about the woods, a freak September snowstorm, and a bear. Tune in next week for a different give away.


  1. I would love to find a way to sneak Googolplex into my regular vocabulary...
    Snagged your book because I can't say no to free!

  2. I always loved the infinity symbol.

    This is the first time I've heard of Googol. How neat. You really make learning about math fun. :)

  3. I agree with Chrys above!! Your posts could be so dry... but you make math learning so fun :)

    Wait til my boys hear there is a Googol... until now, our biggest number word was "ka-gillion" :)

  4. I love math. Never any dryness there. Math is fun!

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Co-host
    Twitter: @StephenTremp

  5. Nice post, can you gone beyond....that could bring about quite a conversation with a group of math lovers. I am not a math lover, but enjoy knowing how numbers and math truly are tied into almost everything we do, so when people say they don't do math or never use math, I have to laugh...cause everyone does, just in different degrees. I'm not a lover of I'm not very good at it.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

    Will get you added to the blog log of visitors in my sidebar

  6. There is no end. There is no spoon. It's all messing with my mind.

  7. I had no idea that Google's name actually came from a misspelling. So there are some beneficial typos out there after all!

  8. On I it had to be either Infinity or Imaginary numbers. Both are great concepts >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  9. On I it had to be either Infinity or Imaginary numbers. Both are great concepts >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  10. If you reached the end of infinity, how would you know...?

  11. It's hard to think about numbers that big... or so big they're not a number! Infinity is hard to process.

  12. Infinity just ~boggles~ the mind. Thanks so much for this and the free download of Ursa Major. I look forward to reading.

    Inventions by Women A-Z

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