Superpatterns Pat Patterson on the Cloud, Identity and Single Malt Scotch

5Nov/061

Bertram, the Googol Engine

Count the zeros - it's absolutely correct!

A conversation, some weeks ago. The scene: Tom and I searching the web for pictures of bridges, using a well known search engine.

  • Tom: "Daddy, what's a 'Google'?"
  • Me: "It's a website you can use to search for things."
  • Tom: "Why is it called 'Google'?"
  • Me: "Because there are lots of things and 'googol' is a very big number."
  • Tom: "How big, daddy?"
  • Me: "Very big - if you wanted to write it you'd put a one then a hundred zeros."
  • Thoughtful silence.

The other day:

  • Mummy: "What's that you're drawing, Tom?"
  • Tom (painstakingly counting zeros as he writes them onto a line drawing of a locomotive): "It's Bertram. He doesn't have a number, so I'm making him the googol engine."
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  1. Eek. Shades of Bruce Sterling’s “Difference Engine”.

    Well, he had to find something to top the “euoplocephalus” episode!

    Can you suggest some suitable bribes for Tom? He’s clearly going to be running the planet before too much longer, and I want to be sure I’m on his good side. ;^)


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