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I was talking to someone, and we were trying to compare a 30 million digit number to something that we could understand. We couldn't do it very well, but it got me thinking of different ways to judge size using comparisons. These are some of the things I came up with.

If you notice that my math gets messed up somewhere along the way, let me know.

This page is for fun, and unlike a lot of you that have written, I don't know much about math!!! Also, most of these only deal with the number of digits in the data set. They do not actually USE the number that IS the data set.

For 300 Million....

The square root is 17,321.

The cube root is about 669.

If I set the margins to .3" on all four sides, and use legal size paper, then the data set requires 50,420.17 pages to print (according to MS Word). Assuming a print speed of 16 pages per minute, which is what a decent laser printer will do, it would take 52.52 hours to print it all out.

If I wrote each digit on a concrete block how big would my wall be? A standard masonry block for building a house or other building is 8" x 8" x 16". (Well actually it's 7 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 15 1/2 inches, but I'm going to round the numbers. And we can let the difference be the size of the mortar joint. :-)) If I build the wall 10 feet high, I'll end up with a wall 2,525 miles long.

If I made 1" x 1" x 1" cubes, and stacked them all together, I'd have a cube that measured a little over 55.79 feet on a side.

The Earth-Moon distance is, on average, roughly 238,900 miles (384,402 km). That means we could make the round trip 627.88 times. But it would take us 978.47 years to make the entire trip, assuming a standard USA speed limit of 70 miles per hour, and driving 12 hours a day.

At their closest, the Earth and Mars are about 35,000,000 miles (54,700,000 km) apart. Currently, could make the trip 8.57 times.

In a test, I held the "a" key down for one minute, and figured that during my test, I could generate 31.61 characters per second. At that rate, it would take holding the key down for 109.85 continuous days, to generate the data set.

If you can think of any other fun ways to compare the data sets, let me know. I'll figure out the formulas, and try to keep tracking them.