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ForumPhilosophical How would you describe a billion?

How would you describe a billion?2 Posts

CtG`s Avatar
137 / 3
Rating Orb E CtG, True Neutral Wizard – joined 9 years ago ..XXX.XXX4 years ago
While I was busy staring blankly at my screen at work earlier, my mind wandered to the concept of vastness [of the work I have to finish]. It's easy to describe things like stars as "billions of times larger than the Earth", but I can't really grasp how large those things are because I can't recreate them visually in my mind on a comparable scale. I thought I might have more luck asking the remaining survivors of Old Fig about it.

So here's the challenge, Figgies. Imagine that you're trying to explain to a small child what a "billion" is. You want him to be able to visualize how large a billion is to such a degree that he can tell a "billion" apart from a "million", or even a "trillion", if you can manage. However, the most important thing is that the child should comprehend how many "one"s there are in a billion, so as not to lead him to the habit of saying things like, "There are a BAHZILLIONJILLION aisles in that grocery store!" You can use a "filling large things with many small things" approach. For example, you can use grains of rice in a truck, or strands of hair on an elephant, or similar things. Alternatively, you can compare large things to small things, such as an ant vs. an elephant, or a spec of dust to a basketball.

If I get enough responses on this dead site, I'll perhaps make a listing of "good answers". These good answers would have the following characteristics:
1. They should accurately portray how many "ones" there are in each "billion", rather than giving a random comparison.
2. They should vividly describe the differences, rather than vague descriptions.
3. An average-intelligence child in your locality should be able to understand the comparison.

Good luck; have fun~
I miss the times and the people.

fs627`s Avatar
United States
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Rating Orb fs627, Chaotic Evil Dark Knight – joined 8 years ago ..XXX.XXX4 years ago
Ah goody, I going to comment on this site for the first time in two years. And even better I get to use math!!

[DISCLAIMER] The first paragraph describes my calculations and reasoning and is likely very boring, the second paragraph would likely be an actual conversation with said kid so feel free to skip to that.[/Disclaimer]

I'm going to use M&Ms because well I'm currently eating a bag of M&Ms. Now I'm going to estimate the number of M&Ms in this bag for convince sake so my numbers might be slightly skewed, but let's just say that there are 200 M&Ms in a 12.6OZ bag. Now we're going to Use bathtubs also because why not. I'm going to assume that my bathtub is about average And will define it's volume as 13*23.5*56=17108in^3 17108/1728=9.900ft^3 9.900*7.5=74.25gal So we'll say that the average bathtub holds that many gallons. Now let's go back to our bag of M&Ms, 12.6/128=0.098gal/bag 74.25/0.098=757.65bags Now, lets Take our number of bags and multiply it by the estimated 200 M&Ms per bag 757.65*200=151,530M&Ms So one bathtub holds approximately 151,530 M&Ms, we can then use this to describe incredibly large numbers in much more easily visualized terms. 1 million= 6.6 bathtubs full of M&Ms, 1 Billion= 6,600 bathtubs full of M&Ms Which is still a very large and difficult to visualize number, it is however much easier than 1 billion.

"Hey mister, how much is one billion?" Said [Kids name]
"Well you see [Kids name] just imagine a bathtub filled to the top with M&Ms. Now imagine it's sitting next to five other bathtubs exactly like it each filled with M&Ms and one that's a little more than half full of M&Ms, that's 1 million. Now take 6,600 bathtubs all completely filled with M&Ms, that's 1 billion." replied the old man, "Now come inside and I'll show you what else we can do in my bathtub, myes"
I dream of the end of the world, as it dreams of the end of me.

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