**Did you know? **
Width of a tennis court (8.23 m) *is 2 x* Length of a classic Volkswagen `Beetle` car (4.08 m)

Free-form entry eg: '125000km', '1.5 million inches', '$67bn', '45000000 AUD', 100years', '123456789', '1 trillion', '1.5e6', '25 million kg'

Take a set of numbers collected from “the wild”. You might take company profits, city population statistics, street numbers or odometer readings. How many of the numbers in your set start with “1″? how many with “2″? with “3″?, “4″? …

Amazing as it sounds, these leading digits are NOT evenly distributed but follow a pattern (30% “1″s, down to less than 5% “9″s). This pattern is so reliable, it’s been used in fraud detection, to trap companies cooking their books: the invented numbers did not follow Benford’s Law.

Follow the link for a fascinating explanation of why this is so.

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:

Jules Verne sent Phileas Fogg around the world in 80 days, but how far is that anyway? How fast would he have had to travel? How long would it take today to go around the world?

http://www.andrewcaelliott.com/explorations/2017/3/21/around-the-world-in-how-long

Want more? The IsThatABigNumber book is a celebration of numbers and numeracy. Oxford University Press: July 2018.

Click here to learn more about it.

Click here for Podcast: Andrew Elliott interviewed for New Books Network.