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A Googol of Atoms?

A Directed Case in Estimation and Large Numbers


Author(s)

Stephen J. Shawl
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Kansas
shawl@ku.edu

Abstract

What is a googol?  Invented by Edward Kasner, an American mathematician who popularized the number in his 1940 book, Mathematics and the Imagination, it is a 1 followed by a hundred zeros. This directed case in estimation and very large numbers was written for a college-level introductory astronomy course, although it could also be used in a variety of other courses in chemistry, planetary science, biology, and mathematics.


Objectives

  • Practice using powers-of-ten notation.
  • Given a problem, decide when the use of approximate numbers is appropriate.
  • Compute approximate numbers in a problem solution.
  • Analyze simple problems that lend themselves to the use of approximations.

Keywords

Googol; scientific notation; powers of ten; relative sizes; estimation; approximation; the size of the universe

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Directed

Language

English

Subject Headings

Astronomy  |   Mathematics  |   Physics  |   Chemistry (General)  |  


Date Posted

07/14/03

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