The Number 100

“I think and think for months and years. Ninetynine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” – Albert Einstein


The words ‘‘hundred’’ and ‘‘century’’ apparently come from the same root, kmtom, which became satam in Sanskrit, centum in Latin, hekaton in Greek and – somehow – hunda in the Germanic languages.

100 Zeros

The number Googol

Overview of the Googol number

A googol is 10100, or one followed by a hundred zeros in decimal representation. Its official number name is ten duotrigintillion. The term ‘‘googol’’ was suggested in 1938 by nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, who was out walking with his uncle, the mathematician Edward Kasner (1878-1955). A googolplex is 1 followed by a googol noughts, or 10googol. It is more than all the hydrogen atoms in the observable universe and to write it in decimal notation would take up more space than the universe currently occupies. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, adopted the name after looking to see if ‘‘googol’’ was taken as a domain name – it nicely summed up the projected size of their database – but they accidentally misspelled it.

100 men

Despite their name, centurions would usually only command 80 men. The closest thing the Romans had to a man in charge of 100 men was the praetor hastarius in charge of the panel of the centumviri, a special civil court panel in Rome. Even this wasn’t strictly 100 people: the panel had 105 members during the Republic and 180 during the Empire.

100 Hides

A hundred was the Anglo- Saxon unit of measurement for land area. A hundred had enough land to sustain 100 households headed by “a hundred man” who did all the administration, raising troops and leading forces. Hundreds were divided into tithings, each with ten households. The basic unit of land was the “hide”, with enough land for one family. Hundreds still exist in the US state of Delaware; they were introduced by William Penn in 1682 and were used until the Sixties, but now they have no administrative role, though they are still used in real-estate title descriptions.

100 Million

Close up of 10 pound notes

Close up of British 10 pound notes

The largest bank note in England is the one hundred million pound note, nicknamed a Titan. It is only used internally at the Bank of England, and there are only 40 in existence. Scotland is the only place in the UK where £100 bank notes are used. All Blue Peter badges feature the famous ship logo, created by Tony Hart. Hart, who died earlier this year, was the multidisciplinary presenter of Vision On and Take Hart and creator of the cult animated Plasticine figure called Morph. He was paid a flat fee of 100 pounds for his ship design.

100 Mangoes

Bangladesh introduced a metric system in 1982 but traditional units are still used: in Dhaka, a hundred mangoes equals 112 in the metric system, and in Dinjpur a hundred betel leaves is 64.

100 Surnames

In a 1987 study, just 100 surnames accounted for 85 per cent of the Chinese population. According to the 1990 census the most common was Li, with over 100 million people: more than the population of Germany.

100 Years’ War

The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) actually lasted 116 years and didn’t acquire its popular name until 1874. It was a series of skirmishes fought between two French families, one of whom claimed the French throne (Valois), while the other claimed both France and England (Plantagenet). The eventual victory of the Valois came at a high price – France’s population was reduced by two-thirds over the period and England was left isolated from the rest of Europe, speaking English rather than French.

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