Number Inflation

number inflation

What has happened to big numbers? Units aside, a sizable amount of something used to be counted in the hundreds. One thousand was Grand. Tens of thousands were quite enough.

The digital age has brought about a curious sort of obsolescence for formerly large numbers. Googol (the number) became popular around the 1980’s, with its goofy appeal and almost inconceivable size. As processing power increased, Megs shifted to Gigs, and on to Terras. Goofy googol became a simple search engine, billion is a household word, and nobody is very impressed by millions anymore. What’s next? What gigantic sum will satisfy our ever-hungry minds? Must we begin speaking in scientific notation? Will the cockroaches that inherit the earth discuss infinities of infinities over their radioactive lunches?

It’s too much to think about. I’m going back to preschool, where a hundred still means something.

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