This is Numberwang?
(Kindly let me know if my math does not tally below. I tried to check and recheck it, but…)
Q: When was 120 minutes ago from now?
A: It was two hours ago.
When was one hundred and sixty four billion (164,000,000,000) minutes ago?
My illiteracy with numbers occurs at a certain threshold.
Numerical literacy*? Not my strong suit. So, I play with numbers, with what I can imagine.
For example, I can imagine a triangle, a square, a pentagram, a hexagon, a septagon, an octagon. But, I cannot imagine, or see in my mind’s eye what a 25 sided polygon would look like. I would have to try to draw it.
There is a 10,000 sided polygon, called a myriagon, according to geometry.
I will take their word for it because I cannot imagine being able to imagine what that would actually like.
I am not monied. The difference between one million dollars and one billion dollars? Well, sure, ‘orders of magnitude’, but I only understand that in the abstracted sense. The practical difference between such huge numbers is not immediately obvious to me. But, the news, scientific research, and governments, regularly inundate us with such large numbers.
Do a thought experiment with me? I wanna know:
Q1. How far could the millions of dollars, comprising a billion dollars, go?
Q2. If I had one hundred and sixty four billion dollars (as I hear someone in America truly does) and I gave away one million dollars per day, how many days before I am broke? Let’s pretend I keep my $164,000,000,000.00 in cash in a safe. That means my money is not making more money via interest, returns, dividends.
If I have one billion dollars in cash, let’s imagine it’s kept in one million dollar bills. I would have one thousand of these million dollar bills.
I could give one of the $1,000,000 bills everyday for 1,000 days before running out of money.
If there are 365 days a year, 1,000 days is about 2.75 years.
The difference between a million and a billion, practically speaking?
A1. You can give away $1,000,000.00 everyday for almost three years before exhausting $1,000,000,000.00
So, how much more than 1 billion dollars is 164 billion dollars, practically speaking?
Well, if it takes 1,000 days, of giving away 1 million dollars each day, to get rid of a billion dollars;
It would take 164 times longer to give away $164,000,000,000.00 than it would take to give away $1,000,000,000.00
1,000 x 164 = 164,000 days
164,000 days = 449 years and a few months.
If I had $164,000,000,000 ($164 billion), I could give away $1,000,000 ($1 million) everyday for 449 years.?
Now that I see it this way it only raises more, honest questions from an ignorant me.
How much money do people need?
And why? To what end and what do they intend?
*My own numerical illiteracy was introduced to me by a slim, charming book called Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos which I found tucked away in the statistician’s, my father, bookcase.
The idea is wittily conveyed in the sixth chapter of the second section of Douglas R. Hofstader’s book Meta Magical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern.
The chapter is called Number Numbness.
Both are written for non-math-savvy folks and both pieces manage to entertain with humor.