I heard a fascinating analogy a few days ago. It concerned our perception of ‘numbers’. The question was two-fold. Firstly, how long is a million seconds. Then, how long is a billion seconds.
Not much difference really?
Well – a million seconds is 11.5 days approximately. A billion is 32.5 YEARS!
So when you read in the ONS that the UK borrowed £15.7bn in December 2009 – it would be an understatement to say that this is a shed load of wonga. Put another way every second (in December) the UK borrowed £5,861….
We seem to have become used to this subtle change in language from a million to a billion. The UK borrowings now stand at at £870bn at the end of December 2009. Alternatively this is £14,169 per person in the UK – from babies to old ladies and everyone in between.
A billion rolls off the tongue just as easily as a million.
I hope whoever we borrowed it off doesn’t want it back anytime soon. We are as a nation apparently all in debt by £33,000 each according to the Telegraph! This ignores what the Government have borrowed on your behalf…
Time for a reality check?
UPDATE 17 FEBRUARY
It seems we are a bit more in debt that we thought. We have moved from billions to trillions. £1.46 Trillions.
So my million and billion seconds story needs changing a bit.
A million seconds – 1.5 days, a billion seconds – 32.5 years and now a trillion seconds is … 31,688 years.
UPDATE 23 February 2010
Just another little snippet of information!
Google handles 34,000 searches per second – or 2 million per minute; 121 million per hour; 3 billion per day; 88 billion per month….