Of Light Years and Numbers

I have absolutely no idea where this post is going to go. I am writing it as is, off the cuff, so to speak.

It is actually a continuation in parts of my post from yesterday, which revealed the breaking news that a new water-world was discovered back in 2009. I failed to mention this planet’s name in that post, so I’ll add it here. You may be asked a question on this over the next few days, weeks or months, so you never know. Knowledge such as this could be crucial. The difference between winning the quiz and losing it!

So. What’s the planet called? GJ 1214b. Not exactly memorable, is it? I’m sure it will receive a proper name in due course.

The planet is 40 light years away from Earth. A light year is 9,500,000,000,000 kilometres (that’s 9,500 billion kilometres to make it easier to read). So, multiply this figure by 40 to get the distance of the planet from Earth in kilometres. Easier said than done!

In researching for this post, I have discovered the answer to the age old question of what’s next? in terms of numbers. We know the likes of millions (6 zeros), billions (9 zeros), trillions (12 zeros) but then they start to become rare…

A number that ends in fifteen zeros is a quadrillion
A number that ends in eighteen zeros is a quintillion
A number that ends in twenty-one zeros is a sextillion

Numbers then take on a kind of monthly feel:
24 zeros: septillion
27 zeros: octillion
30 zeros: nonillion
33 zeros: decillion

They then start to become ridiculously long
36 zeros: undecillion
39 zeros: duodecillion
45 zeros: quattuordecillion
48 zeros: quinquadecillion
60 zeros: novemdecillion
303 zeros is a centillion. This doesn’t seem to quite hit the mark with me, but there you have it.

I found a ten undecillion pound note in the street today, and I’m wondering whether it is real. The bank wouldn’t accept it.

Never in a nonillion years did I ever think I’d write the previous sentence!

And, I have heard a rumour that a billion may be becoming a gillion, and a trillion will change to a tetrillion. And, shock! horror! a quadrillion may become a pentillion.


I have red squiggles galore in front of my eyes. Not only do the calculators and Excel not accept the numeric version of the ‘larger’ numbers, the spell checker doesn’t recognise the spellings of their names either.

Now. All that considered. Can you remember the name of the planet I mentioned in my post yesterday? If you can’t remember it now, you aren’t going to do very well in that quiz later in the year, are you?

Numbers is a fun word isn’t it? You start off thinking about what the word actually means, and then, as you look deeper into the meaning, a second, hidden, meaning emerges. The mind-numbing meaning. Numbers really are numbers when you look a little too closely at them…

19 thoughts on “Of Light Years and Numbers

  1. I think I have a headache!!! LoL!!! 🙂

    All these fancy numbers tend to make me zone out as their value becomes unintelligible! 🙂

    When spellcheckers crash for want of understanding what are we mere mortals to do????

    God Bless my friend! 🙂



  2. 🙂 Numbers…. sounds a little like the figure Greece owes the EU .. and the amount the bankers pay themselves in bonuses.. LOL… Maths was never my subject.. But thanks a Zillion for this post Tom.. loved reading about planet Zog.. lol …
    Interesting dont you think though Tom how news is starting to come out now as to how Life now can be possible on other planets… I wonder just how those aliens are doing in that other numbered sequence.. 51 ? 🙂


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