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Off the Number Line: The End is Near

the end is near funny math cartoon

Interviewer:

Two to the 157th power. Wow. That’s a big number!

Cartoonist:

Yes. It’s a big number. But of course the number line goes on forever. There is no end…

Interviewer:

What’s the significance of this particular number?

Cartoonist:

For one thing, this is approximately the number of silicon atoms in the Earth’s crust. So there is significance there for terrestrial limits of circuit chips. This number is also called an apocalyptic number. It’s the smallest power of 2 that contains the digits 666. Here is its full decimal expansion:

182687704666362864775460604089535377456991567872

Interviewer:

Is that an actual thing? Apocalyptic numbers?

Cartoonist:

Recreational mathematicians come up with all sorts of cool classifications of numbers and their properties. One interesting thing about apocalyptic numbers is that they are very rare for small powers of 2, but after a certain power there are so many digits that it flips and becomes exceedingly unlikely for a power of 2 to NOT be apocalyptic.

Interviewer:

Fascinating! I’m glad the end is not near for Off the Number Line cartoons! I look forward to them every week.

 

Read how educators are using math cartoons in the classroom!

Matthew Peterson and James Huang

About the Author

Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., is Co-founder and Chief Research & Development Officer at the MIND Research Institute. James Huang is Senior Visual Designer at MIND Research Institute.

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