More on "Googol" and "Googolplex"

Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 30 04:28:49 UTC 2008

Mathematical lore is likely based on Kasner's own account, which is not
surprising--and, of course, Gardner and other popularizers of
mathematics gave essentially an identical account to Kasner's own.
However, there may be some recent documents that should shed more light
on this. I don't have the exact date, but, within the last three years,
Sirotta's and Kasner's family members tried to sue Google for either
copyright or trademark violations (likely the former). The case was, of
course, dismissed, but documentation should still exist. The easiest way
to get the information on this would be from Google  and its lawyers.
Court records are public, but the trouble is finding the court where
they were filed.


PS: It appears that the action was initially filed in connection with
Google IPO. I am still looking for details.

Interestingly, some newspaper accounts contribute to confusion over the
origin of "googol". Several turned Sirotta into Kasner's uncle, instead
of nephew, reversing the coinage as well. Some backdated the origin to
1955--the year of Kasner's death. Much of this came out in 2004/5, as
Google was getting ready for IPO.

Also note that "googol" is not the only antecedent for Google--the
company used to be obsessed with using pairs of eyes in its logos and
symbols (and trademarks, of course). Last year, some European
publications printed entire posters with 40+ different versions of
Google eyes. Mileage may vary.

The American Dialect Society -

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