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Tom's Take On Large-In-Life Numbers

Consider this list of numbers, in increasing order:

• 100,000
• 800,000
• 2 billion = 2 x 109
• 6 billion = 6 x 109
• 14 billion = 1.4 x 1010
• 6 trillion = 6 x 1012
• 7 trillion = 7 x 1012
• 400 nonillion = 4 x 1032
• 1 x 1080
• 1 x 10120
• Match one of the above numbers as a "best" estimation of each of the following items:
1. Number of people in the world
2. Number of grains of sand that would fill a sphere the size of the earth
3. Average number of hairs on one's head
4. Age of the universe (in years)
5. Number of possible chess moves in a chess game
7. Number of words in the English language
8. Number of atoms in the universe
9. National debt (in dolars)
10. One light-year (distance light travels in a year) in miles
Good luck!

Source: Tom Swanson's "Large Numbers," Oregon Mathematics Teacher, Dec. 2003, p. 37.

Hint: Do some estimations....some calculations...some eliminating....some comparisons....some Internet searching.

Solution Commentary: Sorry...that would ruin the experience.