Jackson Five Friday: Number Sense, a Googol Things?

Happy Friday Friends,

Do you feel like you have good number sense?  When someone talks about the U.S. debt being trillions of dollars, do you feel like you have a good concept of just how big a trillion is?  Or even a million — do you know how long it would take for a million seconds to pass?  How about a billion? How about a trillion?

I’ll give you a second to think that through.  The answers may surprise you.  It takes 11.5 days for a million seconds to pass, 31.7 years for a billion seconds to pass, and 31,7000 years for a trillion seconds to pass.  Or what about if you stacked dollar bills?  How tall is a million dollar stack if you use all ones?  It’s 358 feet tall, a billion is 67.8 miles high, and a trillion dollar stack is 67,866 miles high.  A trillion dollar stack could wrap around the equator almost three times.  That means that the U.S. debt (estimated at 18 trillion) could be stacked to the moon and back more than twice.  It’s a crazy big number.

How many grains of sand are there in the world?  How many stars?  These are huge, huge, huge numbers.  But nothing is a googol (and yes that’s the correct spelling despite the little start-up that may or may not have meant to misspell the number with 100 zeros).  My insistence on this truth drives my sons bananas.  They say, “Mom, there has to be a googol grains of sand, or a googol stars, or something.”  But there’s not.  Scientists’ best estimates suggest that the number of atoms in the universe is about 20 zeros shy of a googol.  Is that mind boggling?

We have this number, this concept that is now part of our daily life, but nothing in the whole universe is represented by it.  Nothing.

So why do we have the number at all?  It’s catchy.  It may even be fun to write out and look at, but I think Solomon’s explanation is best:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.     Ecclesiastes 3:11

Eternity is in our hearts.  We insist that there’s a googol something, there’s just got to be.  And we are right.  Not in this universe but in the next.  There we will have a googol days to enjoy and glorify God.  In fact, we have forever!

Have a great weekend!

With Love,


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