# The best visual description of the size of one billion?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Wexler, Mar 27, 2008.

1. ### Idle MindWhat the hell, man?Valued Senior Member

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Yeah, 1 billion days is only ~2.7 million years, so there were likely even early hominids at that time. So you're correct, and the list in the OP is not accurate.

*edit. Somehow miscalculated a billion hours. That's 114,155 years, so I guess we were in the stone age. Haha. Don't know how I was off by 2 decimal places... :-\

Last edited: Sep 20, 2011

3. ### RJBeeryNatural PhilosopherValued Senior Member

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I've not read much of this thread but I see comments about the OP list being in error. I just wanted to remind folks to verify that we're all talking about the same number when we say "billion". 1 Billion = 1,000,000,000

http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52579.html

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Yes...we are talking the American version.

In the 3.5 years since I originally asked the question, the Mega Penny Project by far has been the best answer.

7. ### EmilValued Senior Member

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That isn't so much.

8. ### AlexGLike nailing Jello to a treeValued Senior Member

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A pail of sand .7 feet high has one billion grains of sand.

9. ### Fudge MuffinFudge MuffinRegistered Senior Member

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the number of nanoseconds you have wasted reading this.

10. ### DywyddyrPenguinaciously duckalicious.Valued Senior Member

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Fail.
Not a visual description.

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So, why I asked in the first place...

Today, especially in America, we throw around the word "billion", well, a billion times a day. In reality, there is an incredibly small percentage of the population that actually understands the size.

This is where it gets fun...

Ask a person what is "a billion". They will throw around the grains of sand and what have you...but really, there is nothing specific to measure against.

But, if you say "visualize a penny", they can do that.

Then, "visualize a Grey Hound bus", and they can do that.

Then "now imagine that the bus, front to back, from the street to the roof line is filled with pennies." They can do that...and usually, that's where they think they have arrived at "one billion"...and that's where the scope of one billion starts to resonate...

Then "imagine 5 busses full of pennies"..."that's one billion"...

This is usually where they are stunned...and, it usually helps if you have one penny...

Then, based on their social position you have something to frame either the scope of economics or time against something.

In my case, I say something like this...

"...now, put the 5 busses full of pennies on a football field (American)...and then imagine side line to side line, from the 50 yard line to the goal line full of busses and pennies...that's the age of the earth..."

...and then based on the type of discussion...in most cases, it's an argument against common thought...I then say...

"Ok, you now have a general grasp of how old the earth is...now, reduce that down to one of the back tires...that's how long there has been civilization...and, then reduce down to a turn signal...that's the equivalent of the Abrahamic faiths..."

12. ### Motor DaddyValued Senior Member

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You are not imagining how many pennies one billion pennies is by equating how many buses one billion pennies would fill. All you are doing is imagining 5 full buses of pennies, which is no more imaging a billion then before you started.

What you've done in this thread is show that a "billion" doesn't have a specific "size."

Imagine a billion seconds, no, I mean minutes, no, I mean hours, no days..weeks, years, lbs, kilograms, light years, inches, HP (oh, that's a good one, can you imagine a billion HP? Heck no you can't!!)

A billion is a quantity, and quantities don't have sizes.

A billion what? There are an infinite amount of objects, all of different size, and each one of them could be multiplied by a billion.

Give me a break...

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We've never met at a party before, have we?

14. ### Motor DaddyValued Senior Member

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Yeah, hey Fred, how's it going? Long time no see. Where you been hanging out lately?

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dayum :L

16. ### scheherazadeNorthern Horse WhispererValued Senior Member

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Agreed.

It is only when the quantity is attached to an object that we can determine a measurement of size.

Nice distinction.

17. ### 786Searching for TruthValued Senior Member

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X = a billion.. See its not so big its only X

18. ### Big ChillerRegistered Senior Member

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Where can you find a quantity that isn't attached to the physical e.g. wavelength of electromagnetic radiation also have "size" in a sense. In this case MD missed.

It's the units that do not represent size. Units are abstractions that reference quantity.

Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
19. ### EmilValued Senior Member

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A number doesn't exist in reality.
In reality a number must be followed by an unit of measurement.

20. ### scheherazadeNorthern Horse WhispererValued Senior Member

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Understood.

In your own words, units are abstractions that reference quantity.

The number remains abstract until it is attached to a reference.

Word salad in it's many variations.

21. ### scheherazadeNorthern Horse WhispererValued Senior Member

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An abstract referencing another abstract.

Still, X is a visual, so it does meet the minimum criteria, IMO, unless three dimensions are specified instead of two.

Even then, I expect we could get Me-Ki-Gal to construct a prototype for us.

22. ### Big ChillerRegistered Senior Member

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That's what I said not the quantity, the units.

Strawman I'm afraid.

Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
23. ### scheherazadeNorthern Horse WhispererValued Senior Member

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Did you know that over 1 billion people are now overweight? I couldn't get them all together for a group photo op, but here is what they all have in common.

I submit this as my entry for a visual reference of not one, but 99 billion.