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"The difference between 1 million and 1 billion..." Topic

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4,073 hits since 11 Apr 2007
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Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Apr 2007 12:48 a.m. PST

Thanks to Gugnir for posting the link to this site:

It's designed to calculate the number of days between two dates (useful for determining how many days old you are (I'm 15,630, or almost 43).

BUT, it is also VERY useful for helping people visualize the vast differences between 1 million and 1 billion. These are two numbers that get tossed around a lot (especially when discussing government budgets). And I honestly think most people cannot conceptualize just how much difference there is between those two numbers.

It helps if you can put it into terms of seconds.

1 million seconds is about 12 days.
1 billion seconds is about 31 years, 8 months, 8 days.

Enter your birthdate (or other interesting dates) on this calculator and check out the "Alternative time units" list on the results page for some interesting (at least to me) trivia. Enjoy!

Personal logo Gungnir Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2007 2:20 a.m. PST

You're welcome, MM. Fun trivia indeed.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2007 3:42 a.m. PST

I get well confused with the present usage of billion. At school and college it was defined as 1,000,000,000,000. That is a million x million. Now it seems to be 1,000,000,000 or a thousand x million.

But at 2,177,779,451 seconds old I suppose I entitled to some confusion.


Napoleon III Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 3:49 a.m. PST

x42brown – it may not be so much an issue of "the present usage of billion" per se. In the UK, a billion always was a million million (still is considered that, as far as I know?). But here in North America, a billion has long been understood to be a thousand million (as long as I can recall; don't know when/how that got started). Same word, 2 very different meanings! The website is undoubtedly North American in origin, that's all.

ChrisGermanicus Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 4:08 a.m. PST

Yup… luckily, German has various, unambiguous words for it…

1.000.000 = 1 Million = 1 Milliarde = 1 Billion = 1 Billiarde = 1 Trillion = 1 Trilliarde


Seems to be equal to the British system Napoleon III describes.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2007 4:25 a.m. PST

Herr Germanicus yeah thats the way I was taught. But I'm afraid that its not that site in Britain a billion is now normally regarded as a thousand million. I'm sure this was done just to confuse old timers like myself.


Dewbakuk Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 4:43 a.m. PST

As far as I'm aware, a billion in the UK is still
1,000,000,000,000. However, the scientific community has adopted the American useage for ease of compatibility. It looks like the financial community may be doing the same.

Yes, I'm in the UK. I had a conversation about this at Uni a few weeks ago.

Chris Wimbrow11 Apr 2007 4:48 a.m. PST

Additional names of big numbers are here:

But the scientific community seems to use the American system.

I never knew otherwise until today. I love the internet!

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse11 Apr 2007 5:15 a.m. PST

In most of the Spanish-speaking world, 1.000.000 (a thousand times a thousand, or 1 followed by 6 zeros) is a million, while (a million times a million, or 1 followed by 12 zeros) is a billion.

Spanish media in the US (and Mexico recently) can't seem to notice the difference, and constantly call one thousand times a million (, or 1 followed by 9 zeros) a billion.

In Spanish, a thousand million is just that, a thousand million ("mil millones").

Moral of this story: Don't rely on TV, newspapers or radio for education! :)


crhkrebs Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 5:40 a.m. PST

I'm glad the British have adopted the "American" system esp. in the financial community. Otherwise the National Deficit would be truly atrocious. 3 zeros less makes a big difference.


Fifty4 Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 6:30 a.m. PST

Now if everyone would just use commas instead of periods too.



Streitax Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 7:16 a.m. PST

Don't let the politicians (here in the US) onto this.

'By passing my International Numbers Harmonization ACt, we have just reduced the National Debt from 5 Trillion to a mere 5 Billion(UK). Vote for me and we'll go over to Pounds Sterling and cut that by half!'

Would the American public buy it? You only need to swing about 5% of the vote to win these days and I think any country has that proportion of mathematically/financially illiterates with the right to vote. Where's Heinlein when we REALLY need him?

Parzival11 Apr 2007 7:37 a.m. PST

Wowó a million million? You learn something new every day…

"A million here, a million there. Pretty soon you're talking real money." -- Sen. Everett Dirksen, U.S.A.

Red358411 Apr 2007 9:05 a.m. PST

Is anyone aware of an excel formula that does this???

I need to do this for a spreadsheet at work and this thread appeared just as I was trying to find one!


Top Gun Ace Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 10:31 a.m. PST

One letter…..

Grinning Norm Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 11:13 a.m. PST

One, two, three, four, a lot, a lot more, I don't care anymore.

Khazarmac11 Apr 2007 2:39 p.m. PST

Hmm, I am British and have never regarded a billion as anything other than one thousand million, but it seems I'm wrong;


Dewbakuk Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 3:25 p.m. PST

yes you are grin

Given Up Inactive Member11 Apr 2007 6:47 p.m. PST

I'm taking the outlook that I'm a thousand times closer to being a billionaire today than I was yesterday.

Thanks guys!

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Apr 2007 12:23 a.m. PST

Glad we could stir things up! Thanks Gungnir!

christot Inactive Member12 Apr 2007 6:19 a.m. PST

I'm afraid if you said the word milliard to average Joe UK they wouldn't have the faintest idea what you were talking about.

cheers chris

Khazarmac12 Apr 2007 12:50 p.m. PST

"yes you are grin"


Sane Max Inactive Member13 Apr 2007 1:51 a.m. PST

Well, I work in Finance in the UK, and our Billion (and the Billion the Government uses as well) is definitely 1,000,000,000.


Steve Holmes 11 Inactive Member18 Jun 2007 3:32 p.m. PST

Maybe this explains why the USA has more Billionaires than any other country.
(Unless counting Turkey and Italy).

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