The Difference between a Million and a Billion

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  • Topic: Names of large numbers, Million
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  • Published : March 9, 2011
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Large numbers can be difficult to conceptualize. The terms "billion" and "million" are often used in news reporting and discussions of government spending, international debt and the population of cities and countries. Being able to conceptualize the difference between a million and a billion helps comprehension of such discussions and data. 1.Numerical Terms

oA million is a thousand thousand (1,000,000); a billion is a thousand million (1,000,000,000). Numerically, a million is a "1" followed by six zeros; a billion is a "1" followed by nine zeros. A common misconception is that a billion is a million millions. A million millions (a "1" followed by 12 zeros) is known as a trillion. Considering the numbers in relation to the power of 10: a billion is 10 to the ninth power; a million is 10 to the sixth power. Time

oBecause billions and millions are very large numbers, considering them in terms of very small units is a helpful way to compare billions with millions. For example, there are a million seconds in 12 days; there are a billion seconds in 31 years. People

oPopulation can be one way to understand and conceptualize the difference between a million and a billion. China and India have populations of over a billion people, while only 300 million people live in the United States. Several U.S. cities have more than a million residents: New York City has a population of more than 8 million; Los Angeles has a population of around 4 million. Chicago and Houston have populations of more than 2 million each, while there are more than 1 million people in each of the following cities: Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Diego.
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