Kids and Infinity
I was web surfing and came across a very impressive observation by a three-year-old on GoogolPower:
One evening, my three-year-old, in his usual stalling-tactic mode, asked me one more question: “Mom how many words are there in the English language?” I answered, “Well, I guess there are about 600,000 and a few more are added each year.” Then we talked about other languages. He pondered for a while and then asked, “Isn’t there a name for each number?”
I mostly wanted to post that just because it is such a smart question by the little guy! But it did get me to thinking, is there really a name for every number? Certainly there are names for far more than 600,000 numbers. But I suspect that we do run out of analogs for million, billion, trillion, etc. at some point (although there is a clear naming pattern…). Edward Zaccaro’s awesome book Challenge Math lists the names for large numbers up to vigintillion, and I guess we could keep using latin numbers to keep going, but would we really have a name for every number?