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One million – how big is a million, really?

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1,000,000 is huge! Maybe it seems common because we hear it so much, but look at the examples below to get a better understanding of the huge-ness of 1 million. You may never think the same about a million again.

Examples of one million

  • How long is 1 million seconds? 1 million seconds / (3600 seconds/hour x 24 hours/day) = 1 million/ 86,400 = 11.574 days
  • How many years is 1 million days (use 365.25 days per year to account for leap years)? 1,000,000/365.25 = 2737.85 years
  • How long would it take you to drive 1 million miles at 100 mph (without stopping for gas or potty breaks)? 10,000 hours = 416.67 days = 1.14 years.  Even a commercial jet airliner averaging 600 mph per hour would take 69.44 days (1666.67 hours) without stopping for fuel to travel a million miles.
  • If you were to eat a million calories, it would take 1250 chocolate shakes (at 800 calories each).
  • How many times around the equator of the earth (using 24,901.55 miles for the circumference)? 1 million / 24901.55 = 40.158 times around
  • How many trips to the moon (using average distance of 238,857 miles)? 238,857 x 2 (to the moon and back) = 477,714 so 1,000,000/477,714 = 2.0933 trips – so you could go to the moon and back twice and still not cover 1 million miles. To get to 1 million, you would need to go the extra .0933 segments of the trip, nearly another 45,000 miles. By the way, the average distance from the earth to the sun is 93 million miles.
  • Number of pages to print 1 million zeros (in 11 point Calibri font in Microsoft Word with default margins)? This works out to 83 zeros per line, 42 lines, and 3486 zeros per page = 286.86 pages to print 1,000,000 zeros. Click here to see what just 10 pages of zeros (34,860 of them) looks like and imagine needing to print these 10 pages 29 separate times to get 1 million zeros.
  • A stack of 1 million square blocks, 1 inch each, into a cube – the cube would measure 1000 inches on each side, or 8 feet 4 inches.
  • How high would a stack of 1 million 1 dollar bills be (using .0043 inches per bill)? 1 million x .0043 = 4300 inches = 358.33 feet – using 10 feet per story, this is almost as high as a 36 story building!
  • How many working days to reach 1 million hours (8 hour days, 5 days a week)? 480.8 years working 8 hours every Monday-Friday – no vacations, no holidays, no sick days…
  • If you were to make 1 million dollars in a year, that is 3.2 cents every second. (60 seconds/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day x 365 days/year = 31,536,000 seconds/year, then 1,000,000/31,536,000 = .0317 or 3.2 cents/second)
  • How wide would 1 million human hairs laid side by side be (using a value of .00276 inches in diameter)? 2760 inches = 230 feet
  • How big would 1 million grains of sand be? Large grains of sand are considered to be 1mm across, anything bigger than 2mm across is no longer considered sand. We will use .25 mm across as a size between fine and medium sand. For volume, 100 x 100 x 100 grains of sand will equal 1 million (see the Squares and Cubes page for other cubes you should know!) – so .25 mm = 0.0098425 inches. Multiply that by 100, and you get .98425 inches per side of 100 grains. Cube that number (.98425 x .98425 x .98425) to get .9535 cubic inches. So, small to medium-sized grains of sand are about 1 million grains per cubic inch. From the calculation above, we know what a million cubic inches looks like (8.4 feet on each side), so imagine how many of these there may be on your favorite beach. Each big block would be 1 million 1 inch cubes x 1 million grains of sand each = 1,000,000,000,000 or 1 trillion grains of sand!

So, if you had to do 1,000,000 math practice problems? Well, thankfully it doesn’t take that many to get better… just keep at it. Keep practicing math, make math a game!