Illustrative examples of a billion (or other number)

Do people consider a billion to be a large number anymore? It kind of seems mudane, as it is common for corporations to make billions of dollars, there are billions of people in the world, and personal computers have billions of bytes of memory.

Do you have any favorite examples of a billion that make it seem really BIG? It takes 30ish years to live a billion seconds, but that isn’t all that shocking. How about saying it a billion ______ would cover all of North America, or a billion ______ would reach from the Earth to Jupiter? Or whatever. Lets just go dimensionally trivia crazy.

A single word is, well, a single word. This post contains 65 of them.
But a billion words? That’s a little more than eighteen hundred copies of War and Peace, somewhere between a hundred and a hundred-twenty copies of the complete US Tax Code and associated regulations, about twenty complete sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, or three complete printouts of every Wikipedia article in English.

A billion? Small change.

One Billion Dollars, for as little as 17 cents each.

Ten billion, twenty-three thousand, five hundred and fifty-two Pennies, about the size of 50 school buses.

Well, there’s only 300 million documented people in the U.S., 1 billion would be a lot.

An ice cube, 250 feet by 250 feet by 250 feet, would weigh approximately a billion pounds.

Oh, I remember a good one. FatWallet sponsered someone demonstrating how much a million dollars is.

I like to think of it this way, line up all the people in the world and every sixth will be Chinese (which is actually a bit more than a billion, but you get the idea)

A billion is the population of India as of a few years ago. China has been way bigger than that for some time.

A cube of water 1km on a side weighs a billion tonnes (rather bigger than a billion tons US).

A billion characters would be equivilant to 300,000-350,000 pages of A4, size 10 print, or a gigabyte of text.

Here’s an interesting number:

http://www.miamisci.org/tripod/whysand.html

Shouldn’t that be “seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion”?

Yeah, its 1.3 Billion isn’t it?

A billion is one hundreth of Dr Evil’s ransom demand :wink:

If you sat a billion monkeys down at typewriters to produce the complete works of Shakespeare, then allowing for a 44-key typewriter and assuming you don’t care about capitalization, one monkey on average would get as far as "To be, or not " before going wrong. :smiley:

Give or take.

Um, something about 500x500 ft. Baseball stadiums, perhaps?

Something about 2000 ft long. The CN Tower is pretty close.

Those aren’t very good examples though, because people don’t have a good feel of how far Jupter is or how large North America is. How about:

[ul]
[li]A new car can be expected to last about 1 billion feet (~190,000 miles). [/li][li]Go into a Starbucks and order coffee-based drinks one after the other, as fast as they can make them. It’ll take 190 years to use up $1 billion. (Assuming 30 seconds per drink, $5 each)[/li][li]If you watch TV for 8 hours a day, it will take 2000 years to have seen one billion commercials. (Assuming 20 minutes of commercials per hour, averaging 15 seconds each.)[/li][/ul]

Even fake currency attracts the babes, I see.

[QUOTE=scr4]
…[ul][li]Go into a Starbucks and order coffee-based drinks one after the other, as fast as they can make them. It’ll take 190 years to use up $1 billion. (Assuming 30 seconds per drink, $5 each)[/ul]…[/li][/QUOTE]
You must hang out in different Starbucks than I’ve ever seen. I fugure 2 minutes per drink, IF it’ sjust plain black blend-du-jour coffee. The espresso or frou-frou drinks are more like 5 minutes apeice. Which is why I almost never go into a McBucks unless I can see I’ll be the first customer in the non-line.

With one billion dollars, you could buy 3 homes worth 1 million each in every country in the world, then 3 homes in each state in the US, 3 in each province and territory of canada, 3 in each county in England and 3 in each state and territory of Australia. (for those playing along at home, that would be 933 homes)

With the leftover money you could have a car worth 75,000 US dollars parked in the garage of each of them.

Envision the largest city you’ve ever seen, at the peak of rush hour. The constant masses of people flooding every reasonable bit of pedestrian space, trying to get to where they need to be. The streets themselves just one massive, contiguous traffic jam. People attempting to bypass the ground-level crush, instead packed to the gills underground, on elevated trains, or even over water, depending on the city. Many, many people already working, filling up skyscrapers thirty, fifty, eighty stories tall. Just as many still at home, perhaps sleeping in preparation for a different shift, taking care of kids, telecommuting, retired, or on holiday. And this pattern repeats over the vast tracts of land that make up the entire city proper. Mind-boggling how many people that all is, isn’t it?

That’s fifteen million, tops. It would take over sixty of those massive crushes of humanity to make up a full billion people. (And we have six and a half of those.)