# Why can I Plot3D with values up to the range of 3 x 10^37 without issue, but at 6 x 10^38, it fails in Mathematica?

In mathematica I'm trying to plot this, using Mathematica 9 (trial):

     Plot3D [-x + x^(1 + y)/(1 + y), {x, 0, 37}, {y, 0, 37}]


It plots just fine. If I change the ranges to 38 instead of 37, the plot goes "flat" on me. Am I simply reaching the limits of IEEE floating point math, or is there a way to plot really large values in 3d?

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Given the enormous range of values to depict, and the fact that no plot can resolve better than four orders of magnitude, it seems like a stretch to expect any plot that covers over 60 orders of magnitude to work at all. Why not plot the logarithm of the values? If you must use the original values, it is conventional to adopt suitable units of measurement. E.g., to see the peak, express the values in, say, septendecillions: Plot3D[(-x + x^(1 + y)/(1 + y))/10^54, {x, 0, 38}, {y, 0, 38}, PlotRange -> Full]. –  whuber Nov 29 '12 at 17:12
Good ideas, thanks. I was just pushing the limits to see what it did. –  Warren P Nov 29 '12 at 18:16