Home » News & Blogs » Millions, Billions, and Trillions!
Bookmark and Share
Young Astronomers

Millions, Billions, and Trillions!

8 May 2011, 18:31 UTC
Millions, Billions, and Trillions!
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

*This post is specifically written for starters and does not contain challenging Astrophysics’ facts/theories.*
Like nothing else in human existence, astronomy encompasses distances, ages, and sizes so enormous that it is almost impossible to form a mental image of any of them. The numbers alone are enough to overwhelm the imagination. And I have seen many students struggling with the basic conceptions and/or misconceptions of distance related issues. Like how big is a million or a billion? A million sheets of paper about the thickness of the pages of any normal notebook would form a tower as high as a 30-story building, but a billion page stack (1,000 million) would soar more than 10 times higher than Mount Everest. And a trillions pages? (One trillion is a million million, or 1,000 billion.) The pile would reach more than one quarter of the way to the Moon!
Another way to think of it is that a million seconds is 12 days, but a billion seconds is more than 31 years, and a trillion seconds is 300 centuries, longer than the history of civilization. Yet even with these analogies, it is often less than edifying to rely solely on huge numbers. Sometimes, ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day