Conceptualizing numbers

We’ve all read about how large numbers are difficult to really understand. I’ve always dismissed these claims because I do understand them. I got into astronomy at an early age and in terms of the distances involved, the numbers are huge.

But I’ve since grasped that understanding large numbers goes beyond simply realizing that a trillion has twice as many zeros as a million. It’s understanding what those extra zeros mean in the real world.

World Net Daily has an article called “Trillions? Get ready for quadrillion” that touches upon this issue. They discuss how the economic stimulus package will force the U.S. government to borrow $6.5 trillion dollars over the next two years, increasing the national debt by 65%.

But what is a trillion dollars, really? The article paints a vivid picture:

If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, and your business lost a million dollars a day, 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose $1 trillion.

Jesus, indeed!

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3 Comments

  1. Shawn
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 08:28 | Permalink

    My brain hurts now!

  2. Posted February 20, 2009 at 14:39 | Permalink

    I am completely nauseated now.

  3. Jonathan
    Posted March 13, 2009 at 16:44 | Permalink

    Jesus!

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