Posted in Big Numbers

Do You Really Know What a Billion Looks Like?

Many years ago, the U.S. government, after the big crash of 2008, was trying to stop the bleeding in the financial system. The number most bandied about was seven hundred billion which everyone knows is a large number. But do we really understand how very large that number is? It seems it starts sounding like 200 billion or 800 billion or 500 billion. All those zeros kind of run together in a person’s mind. A few years back I wrote a piece about having everything and nothing in which I mentioned the odds of winning the lottery. Those odds basically¬† approached zero which is a really small number. That’s not hard to conceptualize. You have some money, it gets siphoned off by greedy executives running some company, you have zero dollars. Simple. Hey, Bernie Ebbers, prison going ok for you? No? Good! But what about the other end of the…