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May 04, 2008
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May 04, 2008




Page: 16/37

Home > 2008 Issues > May 04, 2008

Kids? Org

Startling factoids!
Compiled by Ratnadeep Banerji

In 1907, the scientist fraternity started speculating about chances of broadcasting images. They coined the word Television long before its invention from Greek tele, meaning far and the Latin visio, meaning sight. ?Telly??usage of this word came into vogue by 1940 and still later around 1948 ?TV? as a word came into being. The 1950s saw a glut of slang words like ?box? and ?goggle?.

The gourmand maneater
?Champawat Maneater? a tigress in Champawat District of Kumaon Himalayas killed a whopping 436 people in a span of five years. The legendary British big-game hunter Colonel Jim Corbett finally shot it down in 1907.

Googol golly throws no googly
Nine year old Milton Sirotta in 1938 came up with the word ?googol?. He happened to be the nephew of an American mathematician, Edward Kasner (1878 ? 1955). Googol is a large number that stands for the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. 1 googol = 10 100. Kasner in his book Mathematics and the imagination (1940) popularised this concept. As such googol has hardly any significance in mathematics and is used while comparing with large quantities. To illustrate, black holes are presumed to evaporate because they faintly give off Hawking radiation. Going by that, a supermassive black hole would take about a googol years to evaporate. Also, Avogadro?s number is less than the fourth root of a googol.

Kasner extended googol to googolplex, an even bigger number ? a one with a googol of zeroes, or 10 to the googol power. This number is so vast that, Kasner said, ??there would not be enough room to write it, if one went to the furthest stars, touring all the nebulae in the universe and putting down zeros every inch of the way.? In the documentary Cosmos, none other than Carl Sagan declared that writing a googolplex in numerals would be physically impossible, since doing so would demand more space than the known source occupies.

A zillion sham!
The word ?zillion? merely means a huge amount and connotes no numerical value whatsoever.

(The writer is a freelance journalist and can be contacted at ratnaub@gmail.com)




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