How big is a billion? – Numberphile







We discuss millions, billions, trillions and centillions is this film about the long and short scales. We also touch on quadrillions, sextillions, milliards, billiards and the Greek myriad.
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Featuring Dr James Grime and Dr Tony Padilla. More about them at http://www.numberphile.com/team/index.html

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38 Comments

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So, would one who uses the old system rattle off a large number like 2 billiard, 342 billion, 609 milliard, 27 million, 366? That seems like as unambiguous as milliard and billiard are that it would just add too many similar syllables.

As a French I almost lost my mind the first time I saw the word "Billionaire", I didn't know someone could be so rich. I was relieved when later I learned that a "Billionaire" is actually a "Milliardaire".

Italy officially use the long scale, but really both scales are totally unused here. We simply stop at the word "milliard". For example 10^12 is not called "trillion", nor "billion", it's just "a thousand milliards" (both in science and finance). 10^24 is "a million milliards of milliards", or you simply say "ten-to-the-twentyfourth". Bad words like "quadrillion" or "quintilliard" in practice have no meaning, they're just hilarious terms.

So as you leave Europe you Brits want to return to the continental naming conventions? Because it makes more sense? Then explain the sense of Brexit since you are commited to rationality on that island.

The Billion being bi-million would make it 2 million, not 1 million million.

The short system is better. It makes the large numbers less wordy. One thousand million is a lot onger than saying One billion.

Plus there is that nice pattern. Each new comma represents a new term.

In Spanish it goes like this:
10-diez
100-cien
1000-mil
10.000-diez mil
100.000-cien mil
1.000.000-millón
10.000.000-diez millones
100.000.000-cien millones
1.000.000.000-mil millones
10.000.000.000-diez mil millones
100.000.000.000-cien mil millones
1.000.000.000.000-billón
It uses the long system.

You can clearly see a pattern in the names. It really shocked me and annoyed me when my English teacher told me about the short system. It just doesn’t make sense, it breaks the pattern.

Where i live, we use the long system

Millionen= million
Milliarden=billion/ milliard
Billionen=trillion/ billion
Billiarden= quadrillion/ billiard
Trillionen=quintillion/ trillion
Trilliarden=sextillion/ trilliard
Quadrillionen=septillion/ quadrillion
Quadrilliarden= octillion/ quadilliard

One = 1 = 10^0
Thousand = 1,000 = 10^3
Million = 1,000,000 or 100-Myriad = 10^6
Billion = 1,000,000,000 or Milliard (1,000 Million) or 1,000-100-Myriad = 10^9
Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 or Billion (Bi-Million) or Bi-100-Myriad = 10^12
Quadrillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000 or Billiard (1,000-Bi-Million) or 1,000-Bi-100-Myriad = 10^15
Quintillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Trillion (Tri-Million) or Tri-100-Myriad = 10^18
Sextillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Trilliard (1,000-Tri-Million) or 1,000-Tri-100-Myriad = 10^21
Septillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Quadrillion (Quad-Million)or Quad-100-Myriad = 10^24
Octillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Quadrilliard (1,000-Quad-Million) or 1,000-Quad-100-Myriad = 10^27
Nonillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Quintillion or (Quin-Million) or Quin-100-Myriad = 10^30
Decillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or Quintilliard or (1,000-Quin-Million) or 1,000-Quin-100-Myriad = 10^33

To some British people out there, this is a ridiculous system. They think that this system has to be abolished. But both the Americans, and the British (As well as the English speaking world), have kept using this system for more than 200 years (Although Britain adopted the short system 45 years ago).

Actually, this is a trivial problem for those who know their SI-system. It's easy. Let's try: Kilobuck (a cheapish car), Megabuck (your friendly neighborhood millionaire), 779 Gigabucks (US goverment deficit), 4,094 Terabucks (US Budget for 2018). Hundreds and tenners may stay as they are.

All the time during this, I hoped you would say that the names don't match. So k-illion is something ^k, not 1000^(k+1).
And you delivered, oh you delivered 😁

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