Largest Gear Reduction Machine Features 100 Gears and Takes Eons to Complete One Rotation

To celebrate being 1 billion seconds old, Daniel de Bruin built a machine that visualizes the number googol.

Cabe Atwell
3 months agoRobotics
The first gear of the machine will need to spin a googol amount of times before the last revolves once around.

The number googol equals 1.0 x 10,100, or 1 followed by 100 zeros. To put that into perspective, scientists theorize there are between 120 and 300 sextillion stars in the observable universe, which translates into around 1,078 to 1,082 of the number of atoms in said universe. Daniel de Bruin's gear reduction machine would theoretically take more power to turn the last gear one revolution than the universe could provide.

There are a total of 100 gears in his machine, with each gear pair having a reduction of 1 to 10, so for every 10 revolutions, the gear next in line makes one rotation, and so forth. So for the last gear to spin one time, the first has to revolve a googol number of times.

As de Bruin explains, "Today at 14:52 I will be exactly 1 billion seconds old. To celebrate I build this machine that visualizes the number googol. That's a 1 with a hundred zeros. A number that's bigger than the atoms in the known universe. This machine has a gear reduction of 1 to 10 a hundred times. In order to get the last gear to turn once you'll need to spin the first one a googol amount around. Or better said you'll need more energy than the entire known universe has to do that. That boggles my mind."

de Bruin said he was inspired to build his gear reduction machine after seeing "Machine with Concrete," another gear reduction machine designed by acclaimed artist Arthur Ganson. His design features a gear train sporting twelve pairs of worms and gears, each reducing the rotations by 1/50. The input shaft maintains a constant 200 RPMs, with the output shaft revolving at 1/5012 of that rate, meaning the final gear, which is encased in concrete, will complete one rotation in over 2 trillion years.

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