Monday, October 01, 2007
Really Big Numbers
At Ask.com, someone asking the question: "How much is 5,865,696,000,000," was directed to a post on my blog. I think that the person simply wanted to know how to say the amount in words, not how big the book would be if it had that many pages, or how big a pile with that many grains of sand would be. In the interests of helping out, I will answer the question here.
5,865,696,000,000, in words, is five trillion, eight-hundred-and-sixty-five billion, six-hundred-and-ninety-six million.
I thought that they taught this stuff in schools, but just in case you were absent that day, here is how it works: Each three digits, starting from the right and moving left represent hundreds, then thousands, then millions, then billions, trillions, quadrillions, etc. For really big numbers, have a look at this page.
The number 123,456,789,876,543,210 would be expressed like this:
123 quadrillion, 456 trillion, 789 billion, 876 million, 543 thousand, 2 hundred and ten.
And, in case anyone is wondering about the significance of the number 5,865,696,000,000, it is the distance that light travels, at 186,000 miles per second, in one year. That distance is called a light year and, because of the vastness of space, is often used to express distances between galaxies or stars.