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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Google’s Project 10 to the 100

As part of their 10 year anniversary – in 1998, Andy Bechtolsheim made out a $100,000 check to Google Inc. – Google released an interactive time line of the company history. Danny Sullivan’s 1998 look at Google, linked from the time line, is worth a read.*

Google also starts off something called Project 10100, a contest in which you should submit your idea of how to help the most people in the world. You need to assign a category to your idea, like community, energy, health and education. Later on, 100 selected ideas will be voted on publicly to find 20 semi-finalists, of which 5 will then be selected as finalists, and Google promises to commit “$10 million to implement these projects” (what you win is not a prize for yourself but, as Google puts it, “the satisfaction of knowing that your idea might truly help a lot of people”). The deadline for submitting an idea is October 20th, and you may use a video to supplement your proposal, Google says.

Why the name 10 to the power of 100? One reason is that this number is a googol, a 1 followed by 100 zeroes, that number which Google says gave the company its name.*

*Danny writes, “So how about the results? I think many people will be pleased, especially for the ever-popular single and two-word queries. A search for ’bill clinton’ brought the White House site up at number one. A search for ’disney’ top-ranked, and sections within it like Disney World, the Disney Channel, and Walt Disney Pictures. Yet interesting alternative sites, such as Werner’s Unofficial Disney Park Links, also made it on the list.”

**Another name for googol is ten duotrigintillion, Wikipedia writes, and a googol is “greater than the number of atoms in the observable universe.” A googolplex on the other hand is a 1 followed by one googol zeroes. Wikipedia says “physicist and broadcast personality Carl Sagan estimated that writing a googolplex in numerals ... would be physically impossible, since doing so would require more space than the known universe occupies.”

[Thanks Hebbet, Andro_ID and Gary Price!]


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