Current Affairs

How Big Is a Billion, Really?

How much is a billion, really? Well, it’s more than the human brain can even begin to conceptualize. But if you’d like to try, Current Affairs has the illustrations for you!

If $1 is half an inch, a billion dollars is the diameter of the Earth.

If $1 is a common garden ant (.5 cm), then a billion is 208,333 blue whales (24 meters) stacked end to end.

Let’s say you were immortal, and had always made a very comfortable salary equivalent to 100,000 a year (relative to inflation, local currency etc). Let’s say you never spent a dime of it, and it never earned any interest. To possess a billion dollars by the year 2020, you would have to have started earning that salary approximately 10,000 years ago, before the invention of currency and around the time of the extinction of the mammoths.

If $1 is 17 inches, a billion dollars is the circumference of Jupiter.

If you were strapped to a chair and forced to listen to all nine Beethoven symphonies, on loop, how many times would you have to hear all nine symphonies before a billion seconds had
passed? 47,214.35 times. You would be strapped to that chair
for 31.7 years.

Let’s say you wanted to fire a billion men into space. Loading them onto ships built to hold 1,000 men each, you would need 1 million ships. If you fired one ship of 1,000 men into the sun every day, it would take you 2,740 years before you finished. The population of men would likely replenish itself before you were finished. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

With his current fortune, Jeff Bezos could buy 13 Lamborghinis every single day for a hundred years.

More In: Frivolity & Amusement

Cover of latest issue of print magazine

Announcing Our Newest Issue


A fall edition loaded with surprises and wonders! With articles on: the socialist tendencies of ants, the wretched memoirs of billionaires, the malevolence of Big Tobacco, and much, much more. Plus: nude leftists! Shapes of the month! A secret DNC memo! And a comic about Chuck Schumer meeting aliens.

The Latest From Current Affairs