This BBC documentary on Infinity is blowing me away. As I relayed a few quotes re: large numbers to my wife I started to tear up. It was like a fuller appreciation of the concept of infinity really was putting me in contact with the Infinite.
“On January 22, 1886, Georg Cantor, who had discovered the existence of an infinite number of infinities, wrote a letter to Cardinal Johannes Franzen of the Vatican Council, defending his ideas against a possible charge of blasphemy. A devout believer, the mathematician considered himself a friend of the Church. God, he believed, had used his preoccupation with numbers to reveal a further aspect of His infinite nature.” (p255 Thinking in Numbers)
Cantor was right. Here are the quotes (direct and paraphrased) I was sharing with Fran;
“A googol [is a number that starts with 1 and] has a 100 zeroes, but a googolplex (10Googol ) has so many zeroes that there’s is not enough space in the entire observable universe just to write the number down; even if you could write each zero on a single atom.”
And yeah, of course there’s an even bigger number. It’s called Graham’s number. What the number 10 is to a googolplex, a googolplex is to a Graham’s number!
We don’t know how many digits are in Graham’s number (not even Graham himself knows, but it ends with a ‘7’)… it’s a mystery (as the documentary makes these points a celestial soundtrack plays in the background).
Then Graham himself says these words, “Graham’s number is not really any closer to infinity than the number one.” My jaw dropped at the thought and it felt like God was in the room.
Can’t wait for Sunday.