“To Infinity and Beyond!”

“To Infinity and Beyond!”

February 1, 2013

In the movie Toy Story, battery-run astronaut Buzz Lightyear thinks he can actually fly – and when he does try to fly, he yells, “To infinity and beyond!” So what is infinity, exactly? In math, infinity means that numbers just keep on going: no matter how big a number you can think of, you can always add one and just make a bigger number.  We’re sorry, Buzz, but there’s no way to go beyond infinity.  But as we look at some other milestone numbers, we’ll see that even non-infinite numbers can be pretty big and pretty cool.

Wee ones: What is the biggest number you can count to on your fingers and toes all together?

Little kids: What is the largest two-digit number?  Bonus: What is the largest three-digit number?

Big kids: While you may know “Google” as a search engine, there is actually a very large number called a “googol” that is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes!  How many more zeroes does this number have than in a thousand?  Bonus: How many more zeroes does this number have than in a million?

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: Count your fingers and toes!

Little kids: 99.  Bonus: 999.

Big kids: 97 zeroes.  Bonus: 94 zeroes.

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Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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