The weird and wonderful quest for unfathomably large numbers
From the number of cells in our bodies to the size of the universe, big numbers have more to do with the ‘real world’ than you might suspect.
We all know that numbers go on forever, that you could spend your life counting and never reach the end of the line, so there can’t be such a thing as a ‘biggest number’. Or can there?
To find out, David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee embark on an epic quest, beginning with cells in the body, stars in the universe, and the time required for all black holes to evaporate.
Then things get serious.
Enter the strange, largely unexplored realm between the finite and the infinite, and float through a universe where the rules we cling to no longer apply. Encounter the highest number computable, infinite kinds of infinity and consider whether one infinity can be greater than another. At every turn, a cast of wild and wonderful characters threaten the status quo with their ideas, and each time the numbers get larger. Will they ever stop?
David Darling is a science writer and astronomer. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Equations of Eternity, and the popular online resource The Worlds of David Darling. He lives in Dundee, Scotland.