Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Numbers

Here's what I learned today about IP addresses, the numbers behind the URLs that we take for granted when finding sites on the internet. The latest version of IP addresses is version 6:

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the next-generation Internet Protocol version designated as the successor to IPv4, the first implementation used in the Internet and still in dominant use currently. It is an Internet Layer protocol for packet-switched internetworks. The main driving force for the redesign of Internet Protocol was the foreseeable IPv4 address exhaustion. IPv6 was defined in December 1998 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) with the publication of an Internet standard specification, RFC 2460.

IPv6 has a vastly larger address space than IPv4. This results from the use of a 128-bit address, whereas IPv4 uses only 32 bits. The new address space thus supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses.

3.4 times 10 to the 38th power. Who can identify the American way to say that number?

Moving on now, I think we can all agree that that's a big number, but just how big?

The very large IPv6 address space supports a total of 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses—or approximately 5×1028 (roughly 295) addresses for each of the roughly 6.5 billion (6.5×109) people alive in 2006.[10] In a different perspective, this is 252 (about 4.5×1015) addresses for every observable star in the known universe.[11]
Very big.


Doug said...

That is more than quite big. A Mole (in chemistry) is 6.02 x10^23 and that would be 602 sextillion. This value you speak of (the 3.4 x 10^38 one) is a quadrillion times larger! Wow.

PeggyU said...

It's hellabig. Something for the wastrels in Congress to aspire to.