Sunday, 30 October 2011

One Quadrillion Dollars

For those who love numbers, a good article from the BBC News magazine on the subject of what really is a trillion, and the history of big numbers. When I was a kid, a billion was a million million, but in 1974 that all changed when Britain moved from the "long scale" to the "short scale". 

Unfortunately this move did not make the Cassini family overnight billionaires, although we must have been worth a few bob at one time! France and Italy also switched to the "short scale" before reverting back to the "long scale", which must make things a little confusing during EU meetings. I found it interesting that "English" Canada uses the "short scale" while "French" Canada uses the "long scale".

As for how much is a trillion? The BBC uses the example of a door mat to illustrate the point. One billion doormats approximates to a city the size of Manchester, while one trillion doormats is the size of the United Kingdom.

There is also a brief mention of the power of compound interest, something that should be mandatory teaching in all schools:
Elsewhere, economic growth has driven an inexorable rise in numbers, says economist Andrew Dilnot. "The speed of change you get from quite small annual growth is what catches us all out. If something is growing at 10% a year then it doubles every seven-and-a-quarter years."
The Rule of 72, and a reminder that any positive ROI from a betting method can generate big returns over time.

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