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52Factorial: What does this impossible number have to do with you. Wait until the end, you special little snowflake

Deal me up another future / From some brand new deck of cards

Hey, it’s Labor Day. Here’s something to talk about around the grill that doesn’t involve politics.

Wild Explanation Of How Many 52-Card Deck Combinations There Are Just Crushed My Brain – 

Set a timer to count down 52! seconds (that’s 8.0658×1067 seconds)

Stand on the equator, and take a step forward every billion years When you’ve circled the earth once, take a drop of water from the Pacific Ocean, and keep going. When the Pacific Ocean is empty, lay a sheet of paper down, refill the ocean and carry on.

When your stack of paper reaches the sun, take a look at the timer. The 3 left-most digits won’t have changed. 8.063×1067 seconds left to go. You have to repeat the whole process 1000 times to get 1/3 of the way through that time. 5.385×1067 seconds left to go.

So to kill that time you try something else. Shuffle a deck of cards, deal yourself 5 cards every billion years.

Each time you get a royal flush, buy a lottery ticket. Each time that ticket wins the jackpot, throw a grain of sand in the grand canyon.

When the grand canyon’s full, take 1oz of rock off Mount Everest, empty the canyon and carry on. When Everest has been leveled, check the timer.

There’s barely any change. 5.364×1067 seconds left. You’d have to repeat this process 256 times to have run out the timer. 

Or, if  you like things like this animated…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Venlet September 6, 2021, 10:22 AM

    I think I’ll stick to playing euchre.

  • Inquiring September 6, 2021, 10:44 AM

    You had recently posted a quote to the effect that our children(?) will never have the freedoms we have had, or words to that effect. I can’t find it here or online. Could you repost it or quote it? I’d like to send it to my son. Thanks.

    • Vanderleun September 6, 2021, 11:31 AM

      Here you go….

      • Inquiring September 6, 2021, 11:52 AM

        Yes! Thanks. (PS: I lived in the CA Bay Area, 1977-2017. 40 years wandering in the wilderness 🙂 . Actually we mostly enjoyed the first 20 years or so. Before 2017, I couldn’t wait to get out. Got my chance in 2016-2017; moved to northern Texas. I still check CA and Bay Area news daily; still have family in CA. Have traveled the state of CA and can visualize you people there. I wish you well.)

  • PA Cat September 6, 2021, 10:49 AM

    Geez, Gerard, don’t give the Democrats any more ideas about ways to increase the national debt.

  • EX-Californian Pete September 6, 2021, 11:37 AM

    Amazing video, Vanderleun. Very cool stuff.

    Always Remember That You Are Absolutely Unique. Just Like Everyone Else!

  • BroKen September 6, 2021, 1:36 PM

    I remember some of the early scientific calculators had a factorial button and something like 70! would return an error. The calculator couldn’t contain the number even with scientific notation. But Graham’s Number is so amazingly huge that you have to get your head around a whole new way of writing numers to understand it. Powers of ten are just the beginning. Even then, of course, no one really does understand it. But it still isn’t infinity! You can always say, Graham’s Number plus one, or times two, or squared, or add a couple of arrows.


  • gwbnyc September 6, 2021, 2:06 PM

    just for the #’s, give “Giving Up Darwin” a moment. Claremont Review of Books, Spring ‘19.

    this suggestion brought to you by a pedestrian intellect.

  • Mike Anderson September 6, 2021, 2:23 PM

    Some semesters, when I’m feeling a bit cranky and want to torment my undergraduates, I show them the decimal expansion of that lovely number, 52! Then I tell them they can get extra credit simply by writing out the number in words, e.g. 1492 is one-thousand, four-hundred, ninety-two. So now do 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000. Hint: it ends with “…eight hundred twenty-four trillion.”

    • Len September 6, 2021, 7:28 PM

      Torment them further by saying this the U.S. debt by the time Biden is out of office!

  • Moi September 6, 2021, 2:32 PM

    Thanks for that video. Absolutely fascinating. Now when people look at me, roll their eyes and say ” You are one of a kind”, I can take it too heart. LOL

  • Sisu September 6, 2021, 3:59 PM

    So, for all practical purposes I can not foresee the future, may have an effect on it, but basically I should control that which I receive some positive reinforcement from, hope for the best, know that the ending of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” is perhaps (more than) allegorical, Viktor Frankl may have simply stated what we all know but are afraid to admit, G-d is, and our individual and collective purpose is to defeat “chaos theory” (back to the “d-mned, mathematicians” and Eve) and that (“chaos theory”) is in reality satan but Christ brought order to the world and we’re just waiting on the “proof”. … Hit “send”. Mix more Martinis.

  • Donald Sensing September 6, 2021, 4:42 PM
  • Daniel K Day September 6, 2021, 4:57 PM

    Mike Anderson, Thank you for that expansion but there’s one thing that looks like an error — you describe it as units of trillions, but trillions have 12 zeros, and there are only 10 factors of 5 in 52! I would expect two more non-zero numerals at the end and a number in the tens of billions. Not that a rounding error hurts anyone here.

    • Grizzly September 6, 2021, 7:47 PM

      @Daniel: In the expansion of 52!, yes, there are the ten multiples of 5, but then you have to consider that the factors 25 and 50 each are divisible by 5 *twice*, so in the prime factorization of 52!, the exponent of 5 is 12, not 10.

      • Daniel K Day September 7, 2021, 9:23 AM

        Grizzly, absolutely right, thank you. Mike, you’re doing just fine, the twelve zeroes are requisite.

    • Mike Anderson September 7, 2021, 8:50 AM

      Did I forget how to count? Those trailing (!) fifteen digits, 824,000,000,000,000, surely appear to have the requisite twelve zeroes, at least to my old itchy eyes. I’d hate to think I wasted my money on the latest version of Mathematica, which is a calculator par excellence.

  • Grizzly September 6, 2021, 7:53 PM

    I have to say that all that description of 52! seconds brought to mind the descriptions that the Hindus have for the very large epochs of time that feature in their religion. I’m not that well-versed in their religion, so perhaps someone else out there can tell me which is larger: 52! seconds, or the period of the “big cycle” in Hindu mythology in which everything repeats.

    • PA Cat September 7, 2021, 7:40 AM

      Your comment reminded me of the Arthur C. Clarke short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” which is about Buddhist monks in Tibet rather than Hindus, but the plot does hinge on the consequences of hiring two engineers and a computer to travel to Tibet and print out all the billions of names for God:

      Clarke wrote the story in 1952, so he didn’t mention the possibility of 52! names of God, but it’s still a good SF story.

  • James ONeil September 7, 2021, 9:25 AM

    Yep you’re all unique but no matter how unique and special you are, I’m always delighted that I’m me instead of thee,
    unless, of course, you’re in a sailboat with 4 or more knots blowing off the shore & I’m landbound.