 # Amazing Numbers : Interpretation and Understanding

Tesla founder Elon Musk’s net worth is \$238 billion. How much is \$238 billion?

A recent Statista article by Katharine Buchholz have interesting explaination for you. It says, “If the 50-year old started spending a dollar each second (without accumulating further wealth and the dollar not inflating or deflating), his current riches would last him more than 7,600 years.”

It’s only around 2000 years from Jesus time till now. If Elon Musk spends \$1 per second, it will last his 7600 years. Interesting way to explain numbers, right?

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If you want to go into calculations:

A billion is 10^9. 238 billion is 238 * 10^9 i.e. 238000000000.

One year have 60*60*24*365 = 31536000 seconds.

238000000000 divided by 31536000 = 7546.9 (To easily understand 238 * 10^9 divided by 31.5 * 10^6 gives us around 7.5 * 10^3 = 7500 approx.)

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In the same article, she writes, “A million seconds are close to 12 days, a billion seconds amount to almost 32 years.” Though I always play around with numbers, such refreshing interpretation makes it interesting.

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If you want to go into calculations:

A million is 10^6. And One day have 60*60*24 = 86400 seconds.

1000000 divided by 86400 = 11.57 i.e. a million seconds is 12 days.

But then multiply by thousand and it is 11570 days i.e. 11570/365 =31.69 i.e. a billion second is 32 years.

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I have enjoyed creating such wow moments for my students. One such interpretation came while making sense of the facts mentioned in textbooks. The radii of atoms are of the order of 10 ^ -10 m (10 Angstroms i.e. 10 raised to minus 10 metres) while nucleus of atoms had radii of the order of 10 ^ -15 m. So ratio os radii of atom and that of nucleus is 100000 = 10 ^ 5.

Then, to make them realise the comparative size, if radii of nucleus is 1 cm than radii of atom is 1 cm * 100000 = 1 km. Understand this, if atom have radius of 1 km (imagine a sphere of 1 km radius) the nucleus at its centre is of the size of a marble/a sphere of radius 1 cm. The students will start getting amazed at this point. 1 lakh i.e. 10^5 times does not make that impact which comparison of 1 cm and 1 km does make.

Now, this is just radius. By volume the ratio is 10 ^ 15. Really, really large number. That is the ration of empty space in atoms as almost all mass (protons and neutrons) is in tiny tiny nucleus.

So I would ask, though not practically going to happen, imagine that every atom collapses and only protons, neutrons etc are present together (no space in between) Earth will become of a size of room with same mass and a human being will be a fraction of spoonful in volume while weighing same.

In the classroom, teaching students to understand and interpret numbers is always an amazing experience. I think, some skills will be useful across the industries.

Let me know if you love such food for thought. I would love to serve if so.