How much is a billion

26/02/2009

When numbers get more than a few zeros my brain starts to freeze so there’s far more zeros in a billion than I care to contemplate.

But put the concept into words and even I can grasp is so I was fascinated by these examples  which illustrate the magnitude of the number:

How big is a billion? If a billion kids made a human tower, they would stand up past the moon. If you sat down to count from one to one billion, you would be counting for 95 years. If you found a goldfish bowl large enough hold a billion goldfish, it would be as big as a stadium. . .

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

These examples refer to a US billion, which is a thousand million: 1,000,000,000. A British million is even bigger – a million, million: 1,000,000,000,000.

There’s more examples here:

 

* If we wanted to pay down a billion dollars of the US debt, paying one dollar a second, it would take 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds. To pay off a trillion dollars of debt, at a dollar a second, would take about 32,000 years.

 

* About a billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was in full swing. (One billion minutes is about 1,900 years.)

 

* About a billion hours ago, we were living in the Stone Age. (One billion hours is about 114,000 years.)

 

* About a billion months ago, dinosaurs walked the earth. (One billion months is about 82 million years.)

 

* A billion inches is 15,783 miles, more than halfway around the earth (circumference).

 

* The earth is about 8,000 miles wide (diameter), and the sun is about 800,000 miles wide, not quite a million.

 

 

 

 

Hat tip: Jim Mora

 


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