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Big Numbers - Infinity?

Most of us know that the sun is approximately 93,000,000 miles from earth (which varies by reason of a somewhat elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun. So how many feet is that? We would multiply 5280 feet in a mile times the 93,000,000 and get 4.91 x 1011 (491,000,000,000). Thus a “walk” to the sun were it possible, would be very close to one trillion feet (round trip - indeed, “ambitious”).

While this would be a very long walk, and even at 4 miles per hour it would take 23,250,000 hours which happens to be 968,750 days or 2,652 years.

But if we think these numbers are large, we might consider Avogadro's number of 6.02 x 1023 which would be 1.2 trillion times as far. Even if we were joined in our walk by 6 billion individuals, the total number of feet covered by all 6 billion people would only be 2.946 x 1021 or less than 1% of Avogadro's number.

When we begin to appreciate these numbers, hopefully we suddenly realize that every time we have ever heard speakers refer to “INFINITY” or to something an infinitely (something), that speaker had no clue to his faux pax – i.e. verbal rubbish.

Indeed, most of our brethren are “toddlers” when it comes to understanding big numbers and they carelessly cast about and “toss up” “big” words to juicen their lexicon and to make a (bad) point. To say that one thing is “infinitely better” than something else is an indictment as to the naivety and/or dishonesty of the speaker.

It may be helpful to tackle'' large numbers by conjuring them into the shape of a three dimensional cube. A cube of one foot only has one cubic foot. A cube of 10' on a side, has a volume of 1000 and one of 100 has a volume of 1 million. But for Avogadro's number, we would take the cube root of 6.02 x 1023 which is approximately 8.45 x 10' or 84.5 million units per side. (And if the unit were inches, the 84,500,000 inches would be 1333.65 miles.) HOW'S THAT FOR LEARNING SOMETHING NEW!