Kev Quirk

How Big Is a Billion?

23 Jul 2022 | ~2 minute read

I’m sure many people reading this know what a billion is, right? It’s a thousand, thousand, thousand. That’s a big bloody number! But quantifying this mind-bogglingly big number is difficult.

I was thinking about this while walking the dog last night. So did some basic maths to try and quantify this stupidly big number in a way my little brain can comprehend. I thought I’d share some of those numbers.

Spending £1 billion (or $)

Turns out that spending £1 billion or a billion dollars, or a billion whatevers is really difficult.

For example, in order to spend £1 billion in a year, you would need to spend £2.7 million every day for that entire year.

If we break that down further, that’s £114,000 every hour, 24 hours a day…for 365 days!

Let’s go one step further – that’s two thousand pounds, every minute, for a whole year!

That’s a ridiculous amount of money. I think you will agree.

Based on a 40-hour week on an average hourly wage of just over £15, the average Briton would need to work for nearly 350,000 years to rake in the wealth of the billionaire Indian-born British siblings Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who are worth around £10billion.

I think there’s a good chance I’ll never earn a billion quid. 🙃

This site is a great example of the wealth divide and how obscenely large some of these numbers are. Thanks to reader, Duncan for recommending it.

A billion people

I live in a fairly typical street in the UK. My street has around 70 houses in it. So let’s pluck a number out of thin air and say for the sake of argument that the average street in the UK has 80 houses in it.

Furthermore, let’s say that each house has on average 4 people living in it. So 4 people per house, 80 houses per street. That’s 320 people per street.

In order to house 1 billion people, we would need 3.1 million STREETS.

No wonder the planet is in shit state, considering there are nearly 8 billion people living here.


This is one that I didn’t think of initially, but thanks to Huginn on Fosstodon, I’m able to add it retrospectively.

1 million seconds = 11.6 DAYS
1 billion seconds = 31.7 YEARS

Final thoughts

This is an utterly useless post, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless. Funny what pops into your head while walking the dog, isn’t it?

Turns out that 1,000,000,000 is a big number. Who knew? 🤷‍♂️

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