Intellectually, we all know that a billion is much more than a million. You know, 1000 times more. We know that Jeff Bezos is a lot wealthier than Beyoncé for example, and that Bill Gates’ wealth puts the Kardashians to shame.
But do you really know how much more 1 billion is than 1 million? Probably not. That’s because humans have a difficult time conceptualising the difference in degrees between the two numbers. As Gizmodo reports:
While living and evolving in a so-called state-of-nature, our palaeolithic ancestors had no need (i.e. no environmental pressures) to develop such a capacity. Back then, and prior to the advent of a formal numbering system, early humans only really needed to get a basic sense of small batches of quantities, like the number of people in the clan, or how many animals might occupy a certain area.
That’s good news for people like Bezos and Gates, because chances are if you knew how much money they actually have (well, how high their net worth actually is), you probably wouldn’t be too pleased. To help put it in perspective, we’ll compare Bey and Bezos. The pop star had a net worth of $US355 ($484) million, according to Forbes’ 2018 America’s Richest Self-Made Women list.
That’s an almost unfathomably large number. And yet Bezos’ $US164 ($224) billion net worth, based on Forbes’ 2018 list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, easily surpasses her (Bezos’ net worth fluctuates daily). In fact, it would take more than 462 Beyoncés to get you to Bezos’ net worth. Bey doesn’t even make the 400 list.
Now, what about one trillion? We’ll have to save that for another video.