File this under the “whodathunk?” category…

My kids are obsessed with the number “Googol,” i.e., 10^100, or, a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. It always ends up being the climax of their silly enumeration back-and-forths (“Oh yeah, well you have a googol of [insert unpleasant thing]!”)

But when we looked into it, we were surprised to find that there wasn’t a googol of anything in the universe—not even atoms. According to scientists and this blog post by John Cook,

“There are about 4 × 10^79 atoms in the universe. (Here’s a derivation of that number.) You could bump that number up a little by counting particles rather than atoms, but not by much. There’s not a googol of anything physical in the universe.”

My kids still refuse to believe me.