Billion, Schmillion!

Billion Schmillion £50 note

With all the talk in the media of cost savings and budget cuts, the words ‘million’ and ‘billion’ are used with casual abandon.

The problem is that the words ‘million’ and ‘billion’ are so similar, it’s easy to forget the real differences between the two.
So I thought it might be good to demonstrate that although they might sound the same, especially if spoken quickly in a cabinet briefing, there is a ‘wealth’ of difference in those extra noughts!

  • 1 million is one thousand thousand, or as we all better know it: 1,000,000
  • 1 billion is one thousand million (using the short scale ‘English’ usage), or 1,000,000,000

However, it still doesn’t really mean a lot does it, although if it were in your pay packet it might make you look twice!
Something that might help to put this into context is if we apply the figures to something other than money, for example, seconds:
One million seconds ads up to over 11 days, quite a lot of time you might think, that is until you do the calculation for 1 billion seconds.
Any thoughts? Well, those gifted mathematicians among you (or those with a calculator) that came up with the total of 31.7 years are the winners!
Another way of looking at it is that 1 billion seconds ago it was 1978. So get out your flares it’s time to disco the night away!

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