Do You Really Understand

Have you ever heard numbers, and wondered really what they mean. People say that they will be there or do something in a second, for things that are to be done relatively soon (i.e. like 10 minutes or less). I’ve talked to people in juvenile detention, or jail who say that they are only there for a minute, when they might mean a couple of months. Along the same lines, I have heard people say that “it will never be ok,” when the problem might seem miniscule in the view of our whole life.

The fact is, that numbers can be hard to understand and people might mean different things with them. This becomes especially true when talking about the large amounts of money. For example, Washington State has a $6 billion shortfall. The United States trade deficit is about $40.4 billion. The bailout of the US economy could range upwards of $5 Trillion.

The question is, do people really understand how much that money is. I am not in this post making an argument for or against any type of bailout I just want people to understand how much money these numbers are. When somebody starts talking about numbers in this range, it becomes difficult to comprehend how much that really is and their exponential growth from lesser numbers.

For this example, if you could imagine somebody dropping a single dollar every second into a bottomless pit (I created a flash video that does just this, see below), the following would be how long it would take for the following numbers.

  • For $100 (one hundred) it would take 1 minute 40 seconds
  • For $1,000 (one thousand) it would take 16 minutes 40 seconds
  • For $1,000,000 (one million) it would take 11 hours 13 minutes and 47 seconds
  • For $1,000,000,000 (one billion) it would take 31 years 249 days 1 hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds
  • For $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) it would take 316 centuries 88 years 32 days 1 hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds

This Adobe Flash Video that I created (nothing too amazing)