Thursday, January 29, 2009

What comes after trillion?

The short answer: Quadrillion

Lunch at PARC

One of the interesting things about lunch at PARC is that, as a result of the interdisciplinary nature of our work, people toss out conversation topics that can only be described as uncommon.

Here is one recent exchange:

Q: Trillion used to be a safely large number. But, with all the financial crisis and trillion dollar rescue packages, I need to know what comes after trillion.

A: Let me confirm. Ah, it is "quadrillion."

Q: Did you know that there is a long scale and a short scale. A billion in short scale is 1,000 million but in long scale is 1,000,000 million?

A: That is interesting. American is short scale. I think French is long scale. Britain used to be long scale too, but it seems to be in flux these days.

Q: I believe Chinese numerals increment by 4 zeros (1,0000; 1,0000,0000; 1,0000,0000,0000).

A: Yeah, it is call the myriad system. As a matter of a fact, the decimal system is not the most obvious numeral system for different cultures.

A: There are many ways that decimal system would not work. For example, I have been considering a 60 based systems because it is more efficient for networking.

Uncommon, yes. Fascinating, definitely.

Or, you had to be there.


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