In this special edition of 60-Second Science Video, two numbers compete. Which is larger? The number of possible positions in the ancient game of go or the number of atoms in the entire universe?
[Slide Rule Slim:] Welcome to Scientific American’s Epic Math Battles. In this corner, wearing all the colors in the universe, all the atoms in the universe.
[All the Atoms:] Woop! The universe is present!
[Slim:] And in the opposing corner, wearing stark black and white, the ancient game of go.
[The Game of Go:] Thank you.
[Atoms:] Hey go board, do you know that there are a hundred to two hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe?
[The Game of Go:] My universe is a lot smaller. It’s on a 19 by 19 board, but we do a lot of things in a small space.
[Atoms:] Atoms—one by one we’re tiny, a million times smaller than the thickest human hair.
[The Game of Go:] The thing is, it’s easy to do a big thing in a big space. It’s much more intense to do a big thing in a small space.
[Atoms:] Oh really? Each galaxy has a hundred to four hundred billion stars. Stars are really big and atoms are really small. So in each star there are 10 to the 59th power atoms. So when you total that up, there are 7 times 10 to the 81st power of atoms in all of the stars in the universe.
[The Game of Go:] Impressive. Very impressive. Each square has three possible positions and there are 351 spaces on the board. Therefore, there are 3 to the 361st power of possible combinations in my game.
[Atoms:] Hmph. Well only like 1 percent of your go positions are legal.
[The Game of Go:] So what?
[Slim:] Holy cow. Is the math correct there?
[Calculator:] Math checks out.
[Slim:] And the winner is: the number of possible positions in the game of go. Let’s comfort the loser. I was surprised, too. And now, let’s talk to the winner.
[The Game of Go:] I have to say, it was unexpected!
[Slim:] For Scientific American’s Epic Math Battles, I’m Slide-Rule Slim. Thanks for joining us!
Director and Executive Producer: Eliene Augenbraun
Cast (in order of appearance):
Slide Rule Slim—Michael Mrak
Atoms in the Universe—Kerrissa Lynch
The Game of Go—Carl Cherebin
Producers: Jennifer Hackett, Benjamin Meyers, Dan Schlenoff
Audio Recording: Eliene Augenbraun, Lydia Chain
Animators: Richard Borge, Lydia Chain, Benjamin Meyers, Shelley Sandiford
Compositor and Editor: Lydia Chain
Audio Engineer and Editor: Lydia Chain
Lighting: Richard Borge, Lydia Chain
Music: written and performed by Jeremy Abbate
Stock Audio and Footage: AudioBlocks, ©iStock.com
Performed and recorded in the Springer Nature Media Suite
New York City