February 8, 2009

Your Life Expectancy Exceeds 1 Billion Seconds

There's never enough time, unless you're serving it.
--- Malcolm Forbes

What's a billion? Some say a million million (1,000,000,000,000 or 1 followed by 12 zeroes) but we'll use 1,000 million (1,000,000,000 or 1 followed by "only" 9 zeroes). Either way, that's a big number.

As a kid, I marvelled at McDonalds, which showed how many billion of burgers they served. How could that be possible? When the signs changed to "Billions and Billions Served", I lost interest.

Not True
How can we visualize a billion? An advisor pulled these tidbits from a recent webcast from a mutual fund company
  • a billion seconds ago: The Beatles
  • a billion minutes ago: Jesus Christ
  • a billion hours ago: the stone age
  • a billion days ago: before the first two-leggers
  • a billion dollars ago: about 8 hours of US government spending
What's their point? $1,000,000,000 isn't much? Not true for most of us. It's easy to spend/lose a billion dollars? Hardly inspiring.
A billion here and a billion there, and soon you're talking about real money.
--- Everett Dirksen
The original source is apparently an advertising agency. I can't track them down. Strange. You'd think the creators would want credit. I wanted to see the visuals they used. Instead, I found inaccuracies. Repeated and repeated. But still wrong. 

Here is an updated list using 2009 as the reference:
  • 1 billion seconds: 31.7 years (1977 --- well after the breakup of The Beatles)
  • 1 billion minutes: 1,901 years (108  --- well after the death of Jesus)
  • 1 billion hours: 114,080 years (even before the invention of plasma TVs)
If you're not sure how to do these calculations, use the Google calculator. Just type the conversion you want as your search string. For example, convert 1 billion seconds to years. Yes, it is that simple.

No one who is young is ever going to be old.
--- John Steinbeck
Did you know that a billion seconds is so short? 

If you're 32, you're already a billionaire in seconds lived. Normal life expectancy easily exceeds two billion seconds. Measuring our remaining lifetimes in seconds shows how wealthy we are. We have so much time to invest. Or squander.



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