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Learn Your Big Numbers Kids

March 4, 2009 4 comments

Recently I’ve been amazed at the kinds of numbers I’ve had to digest. When I teach, I usually talk about news and such things to get warmed up, and as many of us know the headlines are dominated by this global recession. One thing I’ve found I have to review with my students are large numbers.

In Japan large numbers are a way of life, but Japanese people have real trouble figuring out large numbers in English (not to criticize because large numbers in Japanese are my nemesis). When translated into yen they become even larger. So, I have to explain large numbers; and I’m not talking about just millions. Those are digits of the past. These days I’m talking about billions and trillions. I sware I saw a figure like “1.5 quadrillion” in some newspaper. What is that? Help me out!

With the release of President Obama’s first budgetary figures for the United States it seems we should just get used to talking in billions and trillions. No longer is the norm to strive to become a millionaire. Old standards friends. Now we have to adjust everything to billions. How many billionaires are there within the borders of your nation? That’s where we are starting. Becoming a trillionaire will be the new exclusive club for all to reach for. Scary!

Just FYI, billions = 9 zeroes (1,000,000,000); and trillions = 12 zeroes (1,000,000,000,000); and I speculate quadrillions = 15 zeroes (1,000,000,000,000,000). I’ll vouch for only the U.S. system since I am a U.S. American. I’m sure there are different ways of counting…Isn’t it always that way.

Welcome to the new reality.

Peace