I Cannot Count That High

MAKING SENSE OUT OF LARGE NUMBERS

On sea days, we have opportunities to enjoy many activities, one of which consists of lectures on myriad topics. Throughout the latest series, focused on various aspects of the universe and the planetary system, the presenter, Frank Buzzard, frequently talks in terms of millions, billions, and trillions, of miles from earth and has even used many other words that I have never heard of to describe numbers higher than this.

One evening we talked with our tablemates about how difficult it is to even conceive of what all of these numbers represent. Robert Rowlands came back the next evening with a chart that helped to put large numbers into perspective.

If 1 second of time is given the value of 1, then the value of

         100 seconds       =      1.66 minutes or about 1.5 minutes

         1,000 seconds    =      16.66 minutes or about 16.5 minutes

         10,000 seconds   =      2.77 hours or about 2.75 hours

         100,000 seconds =      27.77 hours or about 1 day, 3 hours  

   1,000,000 seconds (Million) =     277 hours or about 11.5 days

1,000,000,000 seconds (Billion) = 31.709 years or about 31 years.8 months

1,000,000,000,000 seconds (Trillion) = 31,000 years       

We thought the chart provided a very useful way to simplify numbers by putting them into a context with which we are all familiar. 

As but one example, use the above to better understand the amount of the national debt we have in America!

 

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One Response to “I Cannot Count That High”

  1. Mary Jane, et al.,

    You all certainly hit the button on our common lack of real conceptual (as well as practical) understanding and application regarding the umpteenth numbers associated especially with our cyber universe … I am not even sure how to characterize this.

    But, being more of a words person than numbers, this translation in your chart helps in converting abstract numerals into more understandable concepts. I shall keep this as a useful tool, shared with your marvelous descriptive photos and text of your trip.

    BIG thanks.

    I do hope that you all are back to strong health, that you had a satisfying Thanksgiving celebration onboard ship or otherwise … and that your travel continues ever-so pleasant …

    Be well.

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