Counting to One Billion Dollars

By | February 7, 2007

Can you imagine the enormous number of one billion?

Well, first we should ask, how big is one billion? We know that one billion is one thousand million. And one million is one thousand thousands. One thousand is ten hundreds. We can say that one thousand is a large number, so one billion is way beyond our comprehension.

Here’s an interesting story that dates back to my middle school. My seventh grade science teacher gave a fun challenge on the first day of class. He said that if any one could write out all the numbers from one to one billion, that student will automatically receive a grade of 100 for the entire year. Upon hearing the news, the whole class started counting on paper. For about two weeks, every one was filling hundreds of pages with numbers. But it didn’t take long for people to give up. By the second or third week, more than half of the class gave up already. Within two months, everyone stopped writing numbers. People realized the goal was not achievable. The result… nobody was even close to one million.

The teacher said the greatest attempt was done a few years ago collaborated by a group of students, and he took out a huge stack of papers filled with numbers. It was an incredible sight, but those students did not make it anywhere close to the billion-mark, plus they had many number gaps.

We underestimated the size of one billion. I had no idea how big a billion was. Let’s analyze the time it would have taken me. If I wrote at the pace of 10,000 numbers per day for everyday of my life, it would have taken 274 years to reach the billion-mark. If I wrote at double that speed, it would have taken 137 years. Even If I wrote at the pace of 50,000 numbers per day, it would have taken 55 years to reach the target. In reality, I could not write 50,000 numbers a day nor would I waste my whole life writing numbers for one class.

I learned a valuable lesson. It made me understand better the concept of one billion. It is definitely more than I or any one can visualize. Below are some facts that will help you understand the magnitude of one billion dollars or just the sheer size of one billion.

One billion = 1,000,000,000 or 10^9 (in U.S.A.)
A billion meters is almost three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
A billion kilometers is over six times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

A billion credit cards combined would weigh the same as:

  • 1562 hippopotamuses
  • 52 blue whales
  • 78 brachiosauruses

A billion credit cards laid end-to-end would reach:

  • 2.2 times around the earth
  • Down the length of the Amazon River 13 times
  • Over 938,000 US football fields
  • More than 14 times the length of the Great Wall of China

A billion credit cards stacked up would be as high as:

  • 120 Mt. Everests
  • 7,219 Great Pyramids illustrates the size of Nine-Hundred Million dollars (Not exactly one billion dollars, but closely enough).

Nine-Hundred Million dollars… The mound of cash is now 20 feet tall, 50 feet long, and 31¼ feet wide. The single stack of dollar bills is now climbing to 300,000 feet, or 56.8 miles.

It is about half as long as a conventional tennis court.

This is the dollar amount for the damage caused by a natural disaster, according to insurance claims filed by victims in four states that were affected by a category 3 hurricane, (Dennis) in July, 2005.

This amount of money is what an ideal elementary school class size (400 students) can expect to earn in their lifetimes, combined.

3 thoughts on “Counting to One Billion Dollars

  1. Pingback: AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » JLP’s Weekly Roundup

  2. Pingback: Growing Money » Blog Archive » About Smarty

  3. Michael Williams

    i dream about having financial freedom in the next 2 years or less~;.


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