February 7, 2009

Numb and Numb(ers)

With both the of tiniest of sizes in our new technology and the kind of money being printed and passed on as debt to our civilizations, I`ve been trying to understand the size of things. My relationship to quantities is intimate and based on experiences; numbers are most comfortable in the less than dozen paradigm; The under thousand are knowable and perhaps climbing up to the 100,000s in this tangible grasp.
Beyond that, I struggle to understand the relationship of millions, billions and trillions. I think they just seem like big numbers to most people, or small numbers if we`re heading down into the negatives.

But consider:
One million seconds takes 12 days;
One billion seconds roughly 30 years ago;
One trillion seconds around 30,000 years.

"A billion is a thousand million, and a trillion is a thousand billion.
To provide some perspective on just how big a trillion dollars is, think about it like this: A trillion dollars is the number 1 followed by 12 zeroes. Or you can think of it this way: One trillion $1 bills stacked one on top of the other would reach nearly 68,000 miles (about 109,400 kilometers) into the sky, or about a third of the way from the Earth to the moon." Here

The ratio of a molecule of 1 nm to the size of an orange is equivalent to that of an orange to the size of the earth.

Its not surprising then that nanoparticles behave quite differently at this scale. At this level " some compounds shift from inert to active, from electrical insulators to conductors, from fragile to tough".

Money behaves differently at the exponential scale too. It loses its utility and becomes obligation (debt) so mind numbingly remote.

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