One Million Vs. One Billion

Nora Daniels |

I’m a bit obsessed with dates and numbers (hey – can you expect anything else from someone whose passion is Finance?). I appreciate a date like 4/4 (which is today!) more than most people. Therefore, when it recently came to my attention that I was turning one billion seconds old, I was a bit excited. I’ll save you the guesswork – that’s about 31.5 years. The minute came and went, but it got me thinking. How long did I think one million seconds was?

The answer is: about 11 days. I was very wrong with my guess of maybe a few years. Further, there’s no written history a trillion seconds ago!

When I was in elementary school, they would have all students guess the amount of a random items that were in a jar. There were about 30 jars to guess, and if you had the closest guess, you won the jar and its contents. I never got even remotely close. Maybe that’s why I’d much prefer to count things out instead of guess.

I find it difficult to imagine how drastically larger one billion is from one million, especially because we hear the word billion (and larger) in many settings all the time. I’ll think about this next time I complain about running out of space on my phone, and remember it’s measured in gigabytes (one billion bytes), compared to megabytes (one million bytes)!