Million, billion, trillion … all big numbers. A trillion is just a bigger number, right? True … but it may be bigger than you think. A million is hard enough to imagine, much less a billion. We need some perspective on what these unimaginable numbers really mean.
Let’s Measure a Trillion in Numbers
We’ll start simple: how big is a trillion on paper?
1,000 = one thousand
1,000,000 = one million
1,000,000,000 = one billion
1,000,000,000,000 = one trillion
A million is equal to a thousand thousands (1,000 x 1,000).
A billion is equal to a thousand millions (1,000 x 1,000,000).
A trillion is equal to a thousand billions (1,000 x 1,000,000,000)
or a million millions (1,000,000 x 1,000,000).
Let’s Measure a Trillion in Time
How Long Ago Is a Trillion Seconds?
If you count backward, then:
1 million seconds = 12 days ago
1 billion seconds = 31 years ago
1 trillion seconds = 30,000 B.C.
(give or take a decade or two)
Let’s Measure a Trillion in Height
How high is a trillion in $1000 bills?
If you stack a trillion-worth of $1000 bills together, then:
1 million dollars = 4 inches high
1 billion dollars = 364 feet high
1 trillion dollars = 63 miles high
(give or take a foot or two)
Note that this is a STACK, not laid end-to-end.
Let’s Measure a Trillion in Money
With about 305,000,000 people and 111,000,000 households in the U.S.
$1 Billion is $3.28 per person and $9 per household,
$1 Trillion is $3,280 per person and $9,000 per household
If a person’s salary is $40,000 per year it would take:
25 Thousand years to earn $1 Billion,
25 Million years to earn $1 Trillion
If you lived to be 80 years of age, to have:
$1 Billion you would have to save $34,000 each day of your life,
$1 Trillion you would have to save $34 Million each day of your life