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The Talks at Google podcast - where great minds meet.

Talks at Google brings the world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers, and doers all to one place. Every episode is taken from a video that can be seen at

Nov 8, 2022

Leading theoretical physicist Antonio Padilla visits Google to discuss his new book, "Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them: A Cosmic Quest from Zero to Infinity." The book is a combination of popular and cutting-edge science, as well as a lively, entertaining, and even funny exploration of the most fundamental truths about the universe.

For particularly brilliant theoretical physicists like James Clerk Maxwell, Paul Dirac, or Albert Einstein, the search for mathematical truths led to strange new understandings of the ultimate nature of reality. But what are these truths? What are the mysterious numbers that explain the universe? In Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them, Antonio takes us on an irreverent cosmic tour of nine of the most extraordinary numbers in physics, offering a startling picture of how the universe works.

These strange numbers include Graham’s number, which is so large that if you thought about it in the wrong way, your head would collapse into a singularity; TREE(3), whose finite nature can never be definitively proved, because to do so would take a near-infinite amount of time; and 10^{-120}, measuring the desperately unlikely balance of energy needed to allow the universe to exist for more than just a moment and to extend beyond the size of a single atom―in other words, the mystery of our unexpected universe.

Leading us down the rabbit hole to a deeper understanding of reality, Antonio explains how these unusual numbers are the key to understanding such mind-boggling phenomena as black holes, relativity, and the problem of the cosmological constant―that the two best and most rigorously tested ways of understanding the universe contradict one another.

Visit to watch the video.