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Orion

February 11, 2006

Orion
Northern winter night sky (looking West.)

Click the picture for a larger, higher contrast image.
Click here for the full size (huge,) high contrast version of the photo.

On a nice clear night, I often find myself lingering in the driveway, neck folded back, looking out on space in wonder. While camping, in the pitch black of the woods, I’ve laid under the stars in contemplation of the smallness of my spot in the universe. Mostly, this is a nice soaking in of the beauty of nature; but sometimes it can leave a person feeling pretty insignificant. But take heart, I have discovered an antidote to that feeling.

First, do you know what a googol is? Not the behemoth online information clearinghouse, but the number. A googol is a one followed by 100 zeros. Pretty simple, right? That’s something you can easily write down on a piece of paper and look at, no? Hell I can type that right here:
10 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
That’s a googol, baby. Simple.

Now, lets get abstract!

A googolplex is a one followed by a googol zeros. I can’t type that here, though; because of the hugeness of a googol. In fact, in the entire universe, there isn’t a googol of anything. Not even sub-atomic particles. So, if you were completely batshit insane and wanted to try to express googolplex in writing— even if you could write your zeros, say, the size of a quark —you would run out of places to write them. Every particle of every atom that makes up every star you survey on a clear night doesn’t amount to googol, let alone googolplex.

Kinda makes the big ol’ universe seem… um… insignificant, huh?

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3 Comments
  1. February 11, 2006 2:57 PM

    My brain just exploded. Sad thing is; I don’t notice much of a differenc.

  2. February 16, 2006 2:14 AM

    I love this picture!
    And, okay, so a googolplex is what, a googol times itself? I’m having a hard moment here with actual logic…sad, I know.

  3. February 16, 2006 7:50 AM

    It’s much bigger than that. Google times itself would be a one followed by 200 zeros. A googolplex is a one followed by a googol zeros.

    Googolplex doesn’t fuck around!

    (The picture looks good on a good computer monitor. On my work computer, it looks totally black.)

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