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#1
04-28-1999, 01:18 PM
 Guest
In response to the quote of Doctor Math:
In addition to making sense in the British fashion of upping the name based on how many sets of 6 zeros there are at the end of a number, the same process is used here using sets of 3 zeros, which is also how many zeros we place between each comma in a large number. The U.S. way makes perfect sense.

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Link to Staff Report: How much is a gazillion?

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 01-27-2005 at 05:52 AM. Reason: Added link to Staff Report -- CKDH
#2
04-28-1999, 02:56 PM
 Guest
I'm actually in the city of Warsaw at the moment, on business, so I couldn't resist making a math comment (Many of the major contributors to modern mathematics were Polish.)

IMHO, all the naming systems "make sense", it's just where (and how often) you wanna name something distinctly. Personally, I think they're all pretty useless, once you get above a US-billion. How many times do you need to refer to a novillion, anyway?

Also, I'm reminded that Unca Scrooge's fortune was often calculated in Fantasticillions, Uncountabillions, and similar.
-- SDStaff Dex
#3
04-28-1999, 09:16 PM
 Guest
OK, so the naming makes sense somewhere, but WHEN did it all come about? When in history did we find it necessary to count that high?
#4
04-28-1999, 10:23 PM
 Guest
Probably when some mathmatician found himself sitting around with ALOT of time on his hands and nothing better to focus his brains on....
#5
04-30-1999, 02:58 PM
 Guest
The OED's comments on "billion" may be of interest:
Quote:
 a. F. billion, purposely formed in 16th c. to denote the second power of a MILLION (by substituting BI- prefix for the initial letters), trillion and quadrillion being similarly formed to denote its 3rd and 4th powers.... Subsequently the application of the word was changed by French arithmeticians, figures being divided in numeration into groups of threes, instead of sixes.... In the 19th century, the U.S. adopted the French convention, but Britain retained the original and etymological use (to which France reverted in 1948). Since 1951 the U.S. value, a thousand millions, has been increasingly used in Britain, especially in technical writing and, more recently, in journalism; but the older sense "a million millions" is still common.
Sir_Al01 said:
Quote:
 In addition to making sense in the British fashion of upping the name based on how many sets of 6 zeros there are at the end of a number, the same process is used here using sets of 3 zeros, which is also how many zeros we place between each comma in a large number.
For that to work properly, a bi(2)llion would be 1,000,000; a tri(3)llion 1,000,000,000; etc.
#6
04-30-1999, 06:11 PM
 Guest
I stand corrected. The more I look into it, the less sense the American way of naming the cardinal numbers makes.
#7
04-30-1999, 06:38 PM
 Guest
The concept of upping the name with every set of 3 zeros makes perfect sense. It's the names we have assigned to those sets that make no sense (i.e. "billion" to a 1 followed by 3 sets of 3 zeros, even though "bi" stands for 2, and does not relate to the number it's assigned to).
#8
04-30-1999, 07:00 PM
 Guest
On the number of subatomic particles in the known universe: there are an estimated 10^12 galaxies in the known universe; if the Milky Way is an average galaxy, then we can assume that each galaxy contains ~10^11 stars; the Sun, a G2 star, is a prototypical star, having a mass of 2*10^33 grams; a gram of mass contains 6*10^23 protons (a gram of neutrons weighs about the same -- electrons weigh about 1/1800th of a proton). Multiply all of these together and we find that the universe contains ~10^80 particles. Modern cosmologists assume the universe contains up to 99% dark matter, which, if it is made of the same type of matter as light matter, brings us up to 10^82 particles. If the universe were 100,000,000 times larger than what is observable, we still have only 10^90 particles, well short of a googol. In any case, Cecil's original reference to "a googol of snowflakes" is clearly an exagerration...
#9
05-02-1999, 06:30 AM
 Guest
I couldn't find this reference in my original response, or I woulda surely used it, but Unca Scrooge has "Five billion Quadruplatillion umtuplatillion multuplatillion fantasticatillion centrifugalillion dollars and sixteen cents" in his money bin (Uncle Scrooge #8, Dec 1954) ... although other amounts are cited at different times.

I always liked "fantasticatillion." Carl Barks, we owe you more than we know.
#10
05-03-1999, 11:37 AM
 Guest
I thought it was just a made up word for 'a real big number.' not unlike Cecil saying jillion.
#11
05-04-1999, 06:41 PM
 Guest
#12
05-04-1999, 08:48 PM
 Guest
I can't find any mailbag article on the site unless it's called something else. May acct for my offremark
#13
05-05-1999, 09:20 AM
 Guest
Dex's column:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mgazilli.html

The Mailbag archives:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/index.html
#14
05-05-1999, 03:19 PM
 Guest
#15
06-10-1999, 11:40 PM
 Guest
I was surprised by the quoted source of the naming information. My mother has the three-volume, Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary (1979 printing) which contains all of the numbers' names through centillion except googol.
As a side note, this is the dictionary that Guinness quotes for the longest word in the English language: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Far from a billion letters, but still impressive.

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Bam!
#16
06-11-1999, 08:01 AM
 Guest
Ha! So much for Merriam-Websters! "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" is a well-known fraud. There never was such a word, except in dictionaries that didn't do adequate research.

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams
#17
01-27-2000, 07:53 AM
 everton Guest Join Date: Nov 1999
In case anyone cares, in Britain we don't use the "British" system of incrementing our -illions with lots of six zeroes. I believe we did once, but not any more. We use the three zero method just like you guys.
#18
01-27-2000, 01:05 PM
 John W. Kennedy Charter Member Join Date: Apr 1999 Location: Chatham, NJ, USA Posts: 4,524
"We did once."

That's "once" in the sense of, "Once there were 240 pence in the pound."

Tree squirrels, tree squirrels....

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams
#19
02-01-2000, 06:30 PM
 Kyberneticist BANNED Join Date: Sep 1999 Posts: 1,324
About that dark matter, jrepka. (completely off-topic)
I've heard estimates of up to 90% based upon hopes for an Omega value of 1.
Its worth noting, at any rate, that one of the leading candidates (neutrinos) is non baryonic.
Also, the "observable" universe isn't what's estimated when counting galaxies.
The size of the universe is fairly well known since it's age is becoming ever more accurately determined.
Of course, since we're still only up to .00000000000000000001 of a googol, who's quibbling about a few powers of ten?
#20
02-10-2000, 12:21 AM
 neuro-trash grrrl Guest Join Date: Sep 1999
A gazillion is a one followed by umpteen zeroes.

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An infinite number of rednecks in an infinite number of pickup trucks shooting an infinite number of shotguns at an infinite number of road signs will eventually produce all the world's great works of literature in Braille.
#21
01-26-2005, 11:45 AM
 Gymnopithys Member Join Date: Dec 2004 Posts: 1,099
Quote:
 The OED's comments on "billion" may be of interest: Sir_Al01 said: For that to work properly, a bi(2)llion would be 1,000,000; a tri(3)llion 1,000,000,000; etc.
For the first time in my life I've just been honored with an expialidocious number: My SDMB number contains 22 digits i.e.
2 005 012 606 005 205 035 000 (in order to thwart spies I've changed the last three). How do you read that ?
#22
01-26-2005, 12:44 PM
 Chronos Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 48,255
That would be two sextillion, five quintillion, twelve quadrillion, six hundred six trillion, five billion, two hundred five million, thirty five thousand.

Or, by the old British method, two trilliard, five trillion, twelve billiard, six hundred six billion, five milliard, two hundred five million, thirty five thousand.

Or for everyone to agree, two point zero zero five zero one two six zero six zero zero five two zero five zero three five times ten to the twenty first power.

But what's an "SDMB number", and why would you have to name one anyway?
__________________
Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
--As You Like It, III:ii:328
#23
01-27-2005, 03:01 AM
 Gymnopithys Member Join Date: Dec 2004 Posts: 1,099
How much is a gazillion

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chronos But what's an "SDMB number", and why would you have to name one anyway?

E-mail confirmation:
Order Number:[deleted by moderator] Subscription: Straight Dope Board Membership

Why ? Just so I can sleep better. Thanks a gazillion!

Just in case: my phone number is [deleted by moderator]

Last edited by Czarcasm; 01-27-2005 at 07:16 AM. Reason: deletion of personal information
#24
01-27-2005, 06:24 AM
 naita Guest Join Date: Jun 2002
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Gymnopithys E-mail confirmation: Order Number: [deleted by moderator] Subscription: Straight Dope Board Membership Why ? Just so I can sleep better. Thanks a gazillion! Just in case: my phone number is [deleted by moderator]
You knew we could use that number to take over your account, right? Also your bank account, any domicile, your job, any wives and/or children, and any carbonated drinks you may have in your fridge.

Lesson: never reveal important numbers on the internet.

(I'm kidding by the way, in case someone didn't realize so.)

Last edited by Czarcasm; 01-27-2005 at 07:19 AM. Reason: deletion of personal information
#25
01-27-2005, 07:21 AM
 Czarcasm Charter Member Charter Member Join Date: Apr 1999 Location: The Lazarus Pit Posts: 31,025
naita is right-you shouldn't post personal information that can be used against you.
#26
01-27-2005, 10:37 AM
 Gymnopithys Member Join Date: Dec 2004 Posts: 1,099
Quote:
 Originally Posted by naita You knew we could use that number to take over your account, right? Also your bank account, any domicile, your job, any wives and/or children, and any carbonated drinks you may have in your fridge. Lesson: never reveal important numbers on the internet. (I'm kidding by the way, in case someone didn't realize so.)
As I said in my first post, the number has been altered of course. Ain't so naive.
#27
02-01-2005, 04:11 PM
 Plynck Guest Join Date: Feb 2004
I'd just like to thank everyone for using the correct word "Gazillion", rather than the more popular (but inaccurate) "Bazillion".
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