Googolplex

Googolpex is a long term project that is part of The Great K. It's a story about large numbers, brutal acquisitions, and corporate behaviour. The research is quite recent since we initiated the project at the end of 2014.
Here you find an excerpt from the book 'Googolplex' (a part of the first chapter by Various Artists).

Googolpex, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Ela Bialkowska

Googolpex, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Ela Bialkowska

 

How to Googolplex

A few years ago in Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, we initiated Substance.ioi, a project on self-valuation for thinkers, makers and entrepreneurs. Are we conscious about our work being valued by others, and is this measurable? We decided to inquire street vendors, artisans, and artists if they ever considered the value of their business/activity. If so, for what amount would they be willing to part from it? 

Mexican candy/cigarette vendors were willing to let go of their display and merchandise for 2,500 Mexican pesos (150 euro). This made us wonder how much a Turkish shoe polisher would ask? Or a cartoonist on the Grand Place in Brussels? After the sale, would they go home, restock, and go back to their old job, or would they decide to change course, and reboot their ‘professional’ life?

Hanging around the studio of Cildo Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, we asked him the value question. His response was prompt and without hesitation: 
‘3 googolplex! No! 1 should be enough!’ Having no idea how much a googolplex represents, a challenge was born.

Googolpex, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Ela Bialkowska

Googolpex, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Ela Bialkowska

 

The 9-year-old nephew of Edward Kasner (Mathematics and the Imagination) invented the number googol: 10 ^ 100 or ten to the power 100, or 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. It is still possible to grasp the scope of a googol. Writing it down can easily be achieved under one minute.
A googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeros, or ten to the power googol, 
10 ^ 10 ^ 100, or 10 ^ 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. To write this down we would need much more than all matter in the universe and it would take us (every human, monkey and robot) each 2 times 10 to the power 80 years non stop, or 200 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 years.
As large an amount as a googolplex dollars may seem, it is a finite number, and as a result it is not absolutely impossible to pay Meireles the amount he asks for his business.

Googolpex, Green Book, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Antoine Meyer

Googolpex, Green Book, Various Artists, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015. Photo by: Antoine Meyer