From my years of teaching introductory astronomy in community colleges, I estimate that:
of the adult American population does not realize
Millions and Billions*
I use a meter stick as "a picture of a thousand"
1 millimeter is used to represent ANYTHING,
A kilometer is 1000 meters (a little over half a mile)
kilometer is to a meter
are 1,000 millimeters in a meter; there are 1,000
meters in a kilometer.
A billion millimeters would be 1000 kilometers.
Our numbering system was not designed for easy visualization:
was designed for easy computation!
a couple of zeros to a number doesn't make the number look much
Adding a zero makes a number ten times bigger.
Adding three zeros makes a number 1000 times bigger.
The numbers, as written, look like stairsteps, and the names suggest a uniform sequence,
...but that is deceptive!
Each step represents a number 1,000 times bigger than the previous step.
Question: Counting by millions, what comes after a million? Is it a billion?
NO. After a million comes two million, then three
million, then four million, etc.
The vertical scale of the L-Curve is based on the thickness of a $100 bill.
A $100 bill is 1/10 of a millimeter thick. If you start stacking $100 bills, the size of the pile would be:
A bumper sticker I saw recently says,
possibility is that you just may not understand the numbers.
*In long-standing British usage the word Billion is taken to mean a million millions (1 followed by 12 zeros). A British reader of this site informs me, however, that this is no longer the case. What Americans call a billion is 1000 millions (1 followed by 9 zeros). Throughout this web site we mean Billion in the American sense of the word.
This site is designed and maintained by David Chandler