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How much is a lot?

How much is a lot?

In the modern world, we often deal with extremely high numbers. Even grasping a thousand things is difficult let alone a million, billion, trillion, or quadrillions. We understand the concept of base positional that a million is a thousand and thousands and that a billion is a thousand of those. But often just hearing these numbers is sometimes inadequate for giving perspective on things like the size of the Earth the number of people in the world or how long years really is?

In this article, I will be giving some examples which I put together years ago to help with my own perspective on the world. And hopefully, these will help you the same way they helped me for gaining context on how big and small some things really are.


Difference between 1M and1B?

Now a thousand seconds is fairly easy to comprehend. Just count to ten times and you've got a thousand. Well, 1M seconds is 11 days while 1B seconds is 27 years. That's the kind of massive difference that adding those three zeros makes. And knowing how much a billion is could help us put into perspective the fact that there are about 7B human beings living on planet Earth right now. If that's still a bit too difficult to comprehend Let's calculate how long it would take to meet them all.

A one-minute conversation is about the minimum time we can assume it takes to sort of meet somebody even at the lowest level. So Let's say it's your full-time job to have a one-minute conversation with people. You do this 10 hours a day with no breaks, no weekends, and no days off of any kind. This means that you meet 600 people a day. At this rate, it would take you 41 years to meet everyone in New York City. It would take you 15,00 years to meet everyone in the United States.

And it would take you 36,000 years to meet everyone in the entire world. Even if your job was to just shake hands with somebody for three 3 seconds it would get you through about 12,000 people a day. So just to shake hands with everyone on Earth would still take 1,800 years. So that's a lot of people. Where are they all?


Well, Let's take a look at how big the Earth is.

Would you be able to fit everyone on Earth into the state of Texas? Yes. Easily. In fact, if we turned Texas into nothing but a flat field of grass which isn't too far from the truth we would be able to give every human being on Earth 1,000 square feet of land. And that's just in Texas which is only about 0.4% of the total landmass on Earth. If we gave everybody only one 1 square foot to stand in we could fit them all inside the landmass of New York City.


So we know that humans don't really take up that much physical space on the surface of the Earth. But exactly how big is the Earth?

Here, I like to use an example similar to the one about meeting people being your full-time job. Let's now imagine it's your full-time job to walk around the land. You spend eight hours a day walking the perimeter of a square mile and then you do the next one and then the next one at the average walk speed of three miles per hour.

Now for simplicity's sake Let's ignore the time it takes to walk from one square to the next. You can instantly teleport to the corner of the adjacent square. So if you never rested and you never slowed down you could cover about six of these squares in your workday. At this rate just to finish the continental United States would take you 14,000 years. And to do the same thing to all of the landmasses on Earth with taking 26,000 years. This is with no days off no breaks of any kind.

So the Earth is really really big. But there are bigger things. Jupiter for example is 1,321 times the size of Earth. The Sun is about times the size of 10x Jupiter and the largest star we've ever observed is a red giant that's about 2,000 times the size of the Sun. But as large as these astronomical bodies are the empty space separating them is much larger. The Moon for example is the closest major astronomical body to Earth.

In astronomical terms, it's practically touching us. But the Moon is and 2,38,000 miles away from us. This means that if you were somehow able to drive directly to the Moon in a car at a constant 60 miles an hour rate without ever stopping it would take you about half a year to get there. The same method would take you 175 years to get to the Sun.

A trip which light makes in about eight minutes to get to Pluto with this method would take you 8,500 years. So there are a lot of things that are bigger than us.


But now Let's think small.

Your body is made up of things called cells. The average adult human will have 37 trillion cells in their body. Now, 37 trillion is 1 billion time 1 thousand tomes 37. Each one of these cells is composed of anywhere between a few million to a few trillion molecules depending on the cell.

Though most cells are closer to the higher end of the spectrum Let's assume a mean average of 1 trillion molecules per cell. That means the human body has somewhere around 37 septillion molecules in it. That's 37 followed by 24 zeros. By comparison, all of the oceans in the world contain about 350 Quintilian gallons of water meaning you have far more molecules in your body than there are gallons of water in all the world's oceans.

So I hope this helps give you a little perspective on the amounts and sizes of various things that are often hard to grasp of numbers alone. I actually have a long list of these types of comparisons so if you want to see more of them you can let me know that this article is of interest by commenting.

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