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A co-worker of mine has a word-a-day calendar from Merriam-Webster. Most of us know that Google got their name from the mathematical term Googol. The ‘Did you know?’ entry for this word in my co-workers calendar gives the interesting history behind the term googol:
“Around 1930, American mathematician Edward Kasner found himself working with numbers as large as 10 to the 100th power—that’s a one followed by 100 zeros. While it’s possible to write that number using standard scientific notation, Dr. Kasner felt it deserved a name of its own. According to his own account, he asked his nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, to give him a name, promising the boy that he would use the word in the future. Milton made up a word ‘googol,’ and so the enormous number was christened. Dr. Kasner kept his promise, and the word has been widely adopted by mathematicians and the general public alike.” In the interest of copyrights and such, you can find more info on this calendar at Workman Publishing.