The Empire State Building brings to mind that iconic image of King Kong atop the skyscraper, swatting away biplanes as he clutches Fay Wray in his massive hand. But how massive? How big would the 1933 movie version of Kong have been, and how much would he have weighed … ?
IsThatABigNumber.com is about extending our number sense. We make comparisons that are (mostly) down-to-earth: populations of people and animals, national budgets, river lengths and so on.
But when we leave behind everyday experience and look at the kind of numbers you find in astronomy and in combinatorics, we come across vastly bigger numbers.
One strategy to grasp these numbers is to break them down into a series of levels, to see them as stupidly big aggregations of things that are themselves stupidly big aggregations of … Here are some good clips illustrating this:
This article about log scales and how to think about them (and how they naturally reflect how we think about big numbers) pretty much nails it, for me. Using log scales is an essential tool in your mental numeracy toolbox.
Thank you, Chalkface blog.
Thank you, too, Vi Hart for your passionate and engaging video on the topic.