I was a child
when I had the question: till what number we can count?

Today I know
that there is an infinite set of numbers but my question still remains with a little
change: how many of the numbers have a name?

You know that
you can count units from 1 to 9 (one to nine). After, you can group the units
in tenths from 10 to 90 (ten to ninety), and then you can group the numbers in
hundreds from 100 to 900 (one hundred to nine hundred). After that, numbers can
be grouped in thousands from 1000 to 9000 (one thousand to nine thousands),
tenths of thousands from 10000 to 90000 (ten thousands to ninety thousands),
millions from 1000 000 to 9 000 000 (one million to nine millions), tenths of
millions from 10 000 000 to 90 000 000 (ten millions to ninety millions),
hundreds of millions 100 000 000 to 900 000 000 (one hundred millions to nine
hundred millions) and billions 1000 000 000 to 900 000 000 (one billion to nine
billions). In between of all these numbers you can find a name for everyone.

If you take
any number between 1 and 99 999 999, for example 118 967 524 you can write down
a name for it, but how about higher numbers?

From billions
and so on, we start to have many problems for their names.

In English spoken
countries, they use the short scale for numeration that uses the name billions
for numbers between 1000 000 000 to 9000 000 000. However most European and
Latin American countries uses the long scale for numeration and numbers between
1000 000 000 to 9000 000 000 are named one thousand million and nine thousand
millions.

When I was a
kid, I used to put the name to the number 1 followed by one or more zeros until
I knew the name. One day an aunt came to see my pages and said that there was
no sense to count so many numbers because there are no real things to be
counted by them. Maybe she was right in our real and close world. In real life
we scarcely see big numbers, well if you do not take into account internet of
course! But maybe the difference between short and long scales makes sense if
you talk about money. In Forbes, you find people named billionaires but in countries
that use long scale numeration they are multimillionaires instead.

But how about
higher and higher numbers?

If you use
scientific notation it is easy to write the numbers with fewer symbols. Instead
of writing 10, you write 10

^{1}, and 10^{2}if you want to write 100. The little superscript is the exponent that indicates how many zeros the 1 has after him (to the right).
The word
million appears in English books from the XIII century and billions and
trillions have the origin in France of the XV century. In 1484, the words

*quadrillion, quyllion, sixlion, septyllion, ottyllion*and*nonyllion*appeared in a French book and have been translated to the English (not necessarily with the same meaning).
When you start to count it is logic to ask till what
number you can count. Some people do not go more than millions or billions,
some other stopped before.

But how about who went further?

In 1938 a nephew of the American mathematician Edwar
Kasner named googol to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros and googolplex to the
number 1 followed by the zeros that you can write before people feel tired. But
the problem is that everyone is tired not at the same time. For that reason,
Kasner named googolplex at the number 1 followed by a googol of zeros! That so
huge number is impossible to write in our universe! (By the way, the search engine Google is based in the name googol).

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