copywriting

What the heck is a google anyway?

18 May 2017

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It’s hard to imagine a world before Google.

Yet, if like me, you were born before the 1990s, then chances are you used to say things like, “I don’t know, let’s look that up”. You possibly had a dictionary or a set of encyclopaedias in your house. You may have even had a library card!

I was watching Back to the Future III with my children recently, when a certain phrase made me pause and back up the movie to double check what I had heard. There’s a scene where a despondent Doc Brown says, "Clara was one in a million... One in a billion... One in a googolplex... The woman of my dreams, and I've lost her for all time."

A googolplex! What the heck is that?

Some of you may know that the Google headquarters are referred to as the Googleplex.

But it turns out that a googol is a real word, and it means the number 10 raised to the 100th power. Picture a 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

That’s a pretty large number.

So yeah, Clara was a rare gem.

Now remember, this movie was made in 1990. Google started as a PhD research project in 1996, eventually incorporated in 1998 – almost a decade after Doc uttered those lines.

It turns out that Google takes its name from an alternate spelling of the word googol. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin picked the word to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information. And inc

So, there you have it. Back to the Future was influencing our future in ways we hadn’t even yet realised.

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