Sunday, March 15, 2009

But What About Googol?

We're halfway through 3rd grade Saxon math. Which may or may not be a testament to how good the boys are in math, since Saxon math bores all three of us practically to tears. It is authored by someone who apparently belives that repetition is the basis for all learning. Gaaack. Nevertheless, both boys are good at manipulating numbers in their heads and on their fingers, coming up with alternative answers to problems, grouping numbers, and some of the basics of fractions and decimals (relating it all to money really helps, particularly with the Heir Apparent).

So, a couple of weeks ago I was showing His Highness that, with long numbers followed by lots of zeroes, we count from the right to left, and every three zeroes we add a comma.

Common mathematical parlance. No big deal.

"Then what about googol?" he asked.

My brain did a backflip. In an instant I knew what he was talking about.

"You know, you must be right," I said. I looked it up, and sure enough, googol - which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes - is actually a number that begins with 10. Not like a thousand or million or billion or heptillion or any of those other zany bigger-than-life numbers, which all begin with 1.

Pretty good for a 7-year-old. I wonder how long I can stay ahead of him...

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