Science: Googol

Mathematician Edward Kasner, 59, of Columbia University, is one of the mythical baker's dozen of savants who were supposed to be the only men in the world able to understand the Einstein theory of relativity. At Harvard's Tercentenary celebration in 1936, he showed how to bisect a "horn angle" (an angle formed by two curves tangent to each other), a problem which had stumped mathematicians for 2,000-odd years. His fun: talking to children.

Dr. Kasner was lecturing on the theory of big numbers to the members of a kindergarten. When he asked how many raindrops fell on New York City on a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!