Tag Archives: centrillions

How many zeroes are there in a trillion?

I was talking to Roger recently and neither of us were sure how many zeroes there are in a trillion.  Its sounds like there’s a lot but we struggle with billions so getting our heads around a trillion is a bit like looking at the night sky and wondering how far it all goes.

The night sky with comet

Night sky with comet 2007

I looked it up on wikipedia and found out that the way we talk about trillions means there’s 12 zeros in the number.  A million has six zeroes and a billion has nine zeroes.  Adding another three takes us up to a trillion.

Mind boggling as they say.  And this is in a world where worry about one or two zeroes is never far from many people’s minds.  The way our economy is managed is making a mess of many people’s lives and they are struggling to cope with the daily bills which only have one or two zeroes on them.  Power bills are growing ever more expensive and if there’s one thing that represents the worst of the market economy it has to be the way essentials like power and telecommunications have been managed.

This Government is hell bent on worshiping market forces.  We see it with the current debacle over land in Canterbury.  “Leave it to the market” to sort out supply and demand they say.  But its mot a normal market and those fortunate to have parcels of land and the developers are laughing all the way to the bank.  The number of zeroes on their bank accounts will increase while others are left to fend as best they can.

As the USA struggles to get to grips with its multi-trillion debt and countries like Greece find it difficult to make the change thats needed in its economy, its important to remember that at the bottom of the pile, not seen under the  zeroes, are people.  Their lives are touched in many ways by the decisions of all these politicians yet the politicians seem to be oblivious to anything but the vote, the number of zeroes on the score cards from the ballot boxes.  They do and say whatever it takes to grab another tick against their name.  Regardless of the impact on people they do the popularist thing.  To me thats unethical and reflects the worst in our political system

Until they can get over their fascination with all these zeroes our country, in fact the western world, will struggle to make headway against the looming tidal wave of zeroes in our debt.

Trillions?  Whats the next big number after a trillion?  Did you know that the biggest number listed on wikipedia is a centillion which has 303 zeroes in it?  Perhaps another taste of Trillian (from the Hitchhikers Guide) might get me over my current grumpiness.