Buckminster Skeeter: Wanna buy a watch?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Large numbers

I never had a good grasp on, and could not name, large numbers. I finally figured it out with the help of some informative websites.

The 'old' English terms were taken from a French guy back in the 1400's. We Americans came up with our own version (of course) and the British have migrated towards using it also. The difference was the British version used the formula of 10 (to the power of 6n) - n being the next step (number). Americans use 10 (to the power of 3+3n). So Americans have a name for each addition of a ',000' . The British 'trillion' is equal to American 'quintillion'. Their 'billion' is our 'trillion'. Their term for our 'billion' is a 'milliard' - which is not in line with their 10 (to the power of 6n) scheme - but they had to name it something, it's a common amount in our economys. Bill Gates would be a milliardaire, I guess.

Here's an easy way to remember the large number names (American form):
BASE UNIT = "illion" = ',000'
We tack on 'mi'(one set of '000' plus the original '000') to this base unit to describe the first unit 1,000,000.
Then we use the 'old faithful' scientific prefixes bi (2 sets of '000'+ '000'), tri (3 sets ....)etc.
The progression looks like this: mi, bi, tri, quad, quint, sext, sept, oct, non, dec.
Once you get to the 11th you start tacking on the same prefixes while leaving the 'dec' on there: undec, bidec, tredec, quatterodec, quindec, sexdec, septendec, octodec, novemdec, vigindec (10 to the 63rd power).

For some reason there seems to be a switch from one language prefix derivitive to another. Seems like it would have made sense just to keep using the same prefixes - tridec instead of tredec; quadec instead of quatterodec; etc.

I like to write them out to get a good feel for it.

million - 1,000,000
billion - 1,000,000,000
trillion - 1,000,000,000,000
quadrillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000
quintillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
sextillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
septillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
octillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
nonillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
decillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
undecillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

On a different note:
Of interest is the fact that mathematicians have always been trying to 'compute' the largets known prime number. There are supercomputers hard at work right now trying to compute such a value. Seems strange. Why do we want to know the largest prime number? Their is obviously no end to numbers so why keep trying to find the next one?? The number has something to do with Pi. i'm not sure how it works out but I'll research it so I don't stay up at night pondering Pi. By the way - there is a really bizarre movie called 'Pi' that I recommend - it's very very odd, but cool - at least in Bucky's world.
There is a download you can put on your computer (not too large) created by the great Internet Mercenne Prime Search : http://www.mersenne.org/prime.htm: - use it as a screensaver - this program computes large prime numbers - oddly enough 9 record prime numbers have been computed with this program. Maybe I'll find the big one. There is a $100,000 for computing/identifying the first 10,000,000 digit prime number. The current record is 9,152,052 digits long - see it here: http://www.arsfoodcourt.com/43.txt


Blogger mugwump said...

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4:09 AM  
Blogger Dr. Metal said...

Does this mean that if Bill Gates moved to Mexico, where I understand the exchange right is quite high, he'd be a sextillionaire?

Cut me some slack, too. I've been working and watching the Westminster Dog Show.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Buckminster Skeeter said...

The Chaney incedent is too easy of a target. Old man shoots old man. Press mad because he didn't call the cops fast enough. blah blah blah.

Curb your addiction for a while - I'm going skiing today for 5 days so no blogging.

5:35 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

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6:15 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

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7:43 AM  

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