Thread: How much is a million, a billion, or a trillion?

1. How much is a million, a billion, or a trillion?

How much is a million, billion, trillion?
Wise Young PhD MD
The W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8087

We often speak casually of millions, billions, or even trillions. We are accustomed to thinking of cities with millions of inhabitants, government agency budgets that add up to billions, and even the United States debt that that is now close to \$9 trillion (Source). Most people don't appreciate these numbers.

• A million minutes is nearly two years (1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes). Put in another way, it will take you nearly two years to spend a million dollars if you paid a dollar a minute.
• A book called "How much is a million?" tried to explain the concept of a million to children, pointing out that it would take a person 23 days of non-stop counting to count a million anything, including dollars (Source).
• If you walked a million steps, you can walk to Boston from New York (approximately 200 miles), assuming that each of your steps is a bit longer than a foot (a million feet is 189 miles).
• Since each dollar bill weighs about a gram and each pound has about 454 grams, a million dollars in one dollar bills weighs about 2202.6 pounds (Source). In 20 dollar bills, a million dollars would still weigh 110 pounds. In 100 dollar bills, it would weigh 22.0 pounds.
• A stack of 1000 bills is about a foot tall. Therefore, a million dollar stacked on top of each other would be 1000 feet tall. The Empire State Building is 1250 feet tall. A dollar bill is about 6 inches by 2.5 inches (15.7 cm by 6.6 cm) or about 0.10 square foot. So one cubic feet of \$1 bills has about \$10,000. A million dollars would take up about 100 cubic feet.

A billion is of course 1000 million. You can multiply every thing above by 1000 but using \$100 bills is a bit more practical.
• A billion minutes ago is about the time of the birth of Christ.
• A billion steps is more than 200,000 miles. The circumference of the earth is only 25,000 miles. Therefore, one can walk around the earth at least 9 times and possibly 10 times.
• A billion dollars in \$100 bills would weigh 22,000 pounds, over 1,100 cubic feet of bills.
• A stack of \$100 bills for a billion dollars would be 10,000 feet tall, taller than the tallest building in the United States and taller than any mountain east of the Rockies, including Mt. Washington (6288 ft, the tallest mountain in Northeast United States).
• It would take 230 days to count the 10 million \$100 bills. That is to count \$1 billion.
• On September 7, 2003, President Bush asked Congress to grant an additional \$87 billion to continue the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The \$87 billion would cover a whole football field with \$100 bills to the depth of 6 inches. By September 2007, the United States will have spent \$315 billion on the war (Source). The Senate is working on adding another \$50 billion. The \$365 billion would fill a football field to a depth of 2 feet with \$100 bills.
• Filling a football field with \$100 bills may seem sort of silly but it is not far from what the Bush Administration did. During Paul Bremer's tenure as administrator of Iraq, the United States shipped bales of cash to Iraq. The total amount cash sent was over \$12 billion, requiring a football field size warehouse to store the cash. A special inspector general for the Iraqi reconstruction said that \$8.8 billion is unaccounted for after being given to the Iraqi ministries. But more interesting, illustrating the physical dimensions of the cash shipped, \$4 billion of the cash is missing, some 363 tons of it (Source).

A trillion is an mind-boggling number, well beyond the capability of most of us to imagine. The following will illustrate.
• A trillion minutes ago is 31,688 years ago, close to the beginning of human history (Source. In other words, if you spent a dollar per minute, you could barely spend a trillion dollars during all of known human history. Even if you spent \$100 per minute, you would not be able to spend \$1 trillion in 300 years, virtually the entire history of the United States.
• Packed in bales of \$100 bills (each weighing a gram), a trillion dollars would be 10 billion \$100 bills, or about 10 million kilograms, 22 million pounds, or over 10,000 tons of cash (at 2000 pounds per ton). A trillion dollars in \$100 bills would occupy a million cubic feet of space. It would fill a football field 6 feet deep. Before the end of 2008, the United States is likely to have spent over a trillion dollars on Iraq.
• The United States now has a national deficit that will surpass \$9 trillion by the end of 2007 and probably \$10 trillion by the time President George W. Bush leaves office in 2008 if he is not impeached. Over a third of this deficit was added by the Bush Administration since 2001. In other words, the Bush Administration has spent more than 3 trillion dollars over the amount of taxes that it has collected in the past 6 years. This debt is being placed on the shoulders of our children.

You know, a billion here and a billion there, all of a sudden we are talking about real money, money that is too much to count, too much to weigh, and too much to imagine.

Wise.

2. interesting stuff, wise.

seems our lovely president can spend billions upon billions at the blink of an eye. he blows these statistics out of the water, hahaha.

3. I recently tried to imagine what 3 million people with spinal cord injury would look lik. That is approximately the number of people with spinal cord injury on earth. If we gather all of people with spinal cord injury in one place, the 3 million people would represent the third largest city in the United States (Source). As of July 1, 2005, New York had 8.14 million people, Los Angeles had 3.84 million, and Chicago had 2.84 million. But, people with spinal cord injury seldom live alone and if we include their families and caretakers, we are talking about a city that is bigger than any city in the United States.

However, if we compare 3 million people with the populations of cities in china, the SCI city would be a relatively small city. Most Americans have little idea how big Chinese cities are. Probably none have heard of a city called Chongqing, located just south of the Three Gorges dam, in the province of Szechuan. I recently went to Chongqing and was stunned when somebody told me that it has 32 million people. I thought to myself that this must be the largest city in the world!

I realize that there is no way that one can fit 32 million people into an area of land that can be legitimately called one city. Chongqing is formally classified as a "city district" that represent the city and all its suburbs. For comparison, the Beijing City District has 13 million in 2001 and currently probably has over 18 million people. The Shanghai City District had 16.4 million in 2001 and currently has over 18 million (url=http://www.citypopulation.de/China.html]source[/url]).

In any case,
• 3 million people in wheelchairs would occupy 300,000 square kilometers, if each took up a square meter of space. That is a 547 km by 547 km (328 x 328 miles) space.
• 3 million people and their families using 1000 square feet of living space each would add up to more than 3 billion square feet. Any way that you look at this, it is a huge number.

Wise.

4. Could the number of people affected with SCI be something like this; 3 million SCI’d with an average of one occupied from health care systems (doc, nurse PT, OT, assistants etc.) should give 6 million. Then if we compare to general traffic accidents I think the number affected by one accident is something like 4 or 5 (family members, relatives etc.). But let’s say 4. That would give 24 million. To take some population figures from here that would mean the total population of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. That’s quite a few countries and people if looking at it like that? And why will not those countries help either?

5. Originally Posted by Leif
Could the number of people affected with SCI be something like this; 3 million SCI’d with an average of one occupied from health care systems (doc, nurse PT, OT, assistants etc.) should give 6 million. Then if we compare to general traffic accidents I think the number affected by one accident is something like 4 or 5 (family members, relatives etc.). But let’s say 4. That would give 24 million. To take some population figures from here that would mean the total population of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. That’s quite a few countries and people if looking at it like that? And why will not those countries help either?
Leif, absolutely.

Three million people with spinal cord injury do not live by themselves. There are family members, caregivers, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, psychiatrists/psychologists, counselors, and social workers. We should consider the industry. In the United States, it is estimated that each person with spinal cord injury probably expend over \$10,000 per year on catheters, tape, chucks, medications, wheelchairs, and other devices/supplies. That is a whole industry of people, estimated in the United States alone to cost over \$10 billion per year.

What I was trying to express was a bit more geeky, the fact that 3 million people in wheelchairs would occupy a space of 300,000 square kilometers! Could this be true? As I think about it, this cannot be. Let me go through the arithmetic again. One square kilometer is 1000 x 1000 meters or 1 million square meters. Therefore, if each person with a wheelchair occupied one square meter, 3 million people in wheelchairs would occupy 3 square kilometers not 300,000 square kilometers. I was wrong.

Sigh.

Wise.

6. President Bush was in a meeting about some recent bombings in Iraq. One of the Secretary of defense personnel told the President that three Brazilian people were killed in one of the bombings. The President dropped his head into his hands and stayed that way for several minutes. Everyone at the table was wondering what was the matter with the President. Finally, Bush lifted up his head and asked- that is horrible... How many is a brazillion?

7. The question of how big a billion is depends on which side of the Atlantic you learn your maths on:
AMERICAN BRITISH
1012 Trillion Billion
1018 Quintillion Trillion
1021 Sextillion Thousand trillion

and so on

To us a billion is a million million , and a trillion is a million billion.

8. Right, we use; million, milliard, billion, billiard, trillion and trilliard (increasing with three zeros in each step). Thus also the pool game billiard with 15 balls... We call a US billion (a million million) a milliard.

9. Originally Posted by Leif
Right, we use; million, milliard, billion, billiard, trillion and trilliard (increasing with three zeros in each step). Thus also the pool game billiard with 15 balls... We call a US billion (a million million) a milliard.
I have never heard of a US billion? A regular billion is a thousand million. A trillion is a million million. Wise.

10. Originally Posted by Wise Young
I have never heard of a US billion? A regular billion is a thousand million. A trillion is a million million. Wise.
There are no such thing like a US billion of course (you’re’ bankrupt), maybe a US gallon or an Imperial gallon sold to you at best?

But can you find out how shotgun barrels where named 12, 16 and 20 occurred? It is strange actually, given the times we live in, not if consider history though. No wonder that mm, inch and gauge play with us. Oh, the lazy Brit’s again.

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