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What’s a Billion?

picture comparing numbers
It's hard enough for me to get my mind around one million, but to try to understand the concepts of a billion or a trillion is beyond my finite mind. (You math teachers out there, please be patient with me and thank the Lord that He wanted me to be a French professor instead!)

A million is a hard concept to grasp. Did you know that a stack of a million one dollar bills is about 358 feet tall?! I read somewhere that for a person to count out loud from 1 to 1,000,000 it would take 23 days, counting day and night, without breakfast, lunch or dinner, without sleep, television, a phone call or a bathroom break!

Here are several more concrete comparisons of a million, a billion, and a trillion:

A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

A million minutes ago was 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago
A billion minutes ago it was the year 107 AD.
A trillion minutes ago was over 1,900,000 years ago!

[added the evening of October 2 - for a really clear comparison of a million and a billion, take a look at Andrew's comment to this post]

Between World War I and World War II, Germans had to deal with astronomic numbers daily because inflation was so high and their currency was so devalued. It cost 200 billion Marks to buy one loaf of bread! Imagine having to deal with numbers like that! You can read a very good article about it by clicking here [1]. Here's a picture of a German one billion Mark bill from 1923:

Whatever you want to say

Evolutionists throw the words million and billion around pretty freely. Here's a story I love that highlights that:

Tourists in the Chicago Museum of Natural History were amazed at the dinosaur bones. One of them asked the guard, "Can you tell me how old the dinosaur bones are?"

The guard replied, "They are three million four years and six months old."

"That's an awfully exact number," said the tourist. "How do you know their age so precisely?"

The guard answered, "Well, I was told that the dinosaur bones were three million years old when I started working here, and that was four and a half years ago."


Lately politicians are throwing the word billion around like it's chump change. The following article is from the website of one of our local TV stations WYFF 4 [2]:

If the $700 billion price tag attached to the bailout plan that failed sounds like a lot, well, it is.

You can spend $700 billion in a lot of different ways. For instance, you could buy a war — the U.S. has spent $648 billion on the war in Iraq so far.

That much money could ensure universal health care coverage for six years or upgrade the country's most deficient bridges four times over. Or you could build 1,750 bridges to nowhere. Surely all of those would eventually take you somewhere.

With $700 billion you could easily run Denmark, which had a paltry gross domestic product of $312 billion last year.

That much money could also pay back every single outstanding student loan, fund the national intelligence budget beyond 2020, or help the Gulf Coast recover from five Hurricane Katrinas.

The next time you hear a politician use the word billion in a glib, casual manner, you might want to think about how wisely politicians are spending your tax money. I guess if you can be glib about a billion, what's a measly $700 billion bailout?! It's just 700 of those billion-thingies....

Several people have expressed their thoughts about the bailout in their comments to my post the blame game [3]. I'd be interested in reading what my readers think about the prospect of our government bailing out these failing businesses.


"The certainty that Messiah reigns produces calm in the face of current affairs, patience with the events of one's own life, satisfaction with the Lord's management of all things, expectancy that a glorious future is coming, and confidence in the One who sits upon the throne." - Walter Chantry

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"The god of the 'American Dream' doesn't seem to be coming through right now." - Dr. Drew Conley