by kokogiak media

Visualizing huge numbers can be very difficult. People regularly talk about millions of miles, billions of bytes, or trillions of dollars, yet it's still hard to grasp just how much a "billion" really is. The MegaPenny Project aims to help by taking one small everyday item, the U.S. penny, and building on that to answer the question: "What would a billion (or a trillion) pennies look like?"

All the following pages have tables at the bottom, listing things such as the value of the pennies, size of the pile, weight, and area (if laid flat). All weights and measurements are U.S. standards, not metric.

It's best to step through the project starting from the beginning, but if you'd like to just jump in, links are available below.

One penny. Most people in North America have seen them and you probably have one in your pocket right now. Using this small metal disk, with a size and weight familiar to almost everyone, let's take the next step. |

or

16

1,000

[5 pennies wide x 5 pennies high x 40 pennies tall]

49,152

Forty-nine thousand one hundred and fifty-two Pennies

[16w x 16h x 192 tall] -

*one cubic foot*.

98,304

Ninety-eight thousand three hundred and four Pennies

[ Two cubic feet ]

1,003,776

One million, three thousand, seven hundred and seventy-six Pennies

[ A wall five by four by one feet thick with a 9-inch cube stepstool ]

10,017,024

Ten million, seventeen thousand and twenty-four Pennies

[ A cube 6 x 6 x 6 feet ]

When you hear talk of "billions" of something (dollars, miles, people, etc), it's hard to visualize. But up next, we have a visual for you - one billion pennies.

One billion, eighteen thousand, one hundred and seventy-six Pennies

[ Five school buses. ]

Only in North America and the general scientific community is this number (1,000,000,000) called a "billion". Most European countries call this number either "one thousand million" or, in some cases, a "milliard". Enough international confusion, let's move on to ten billion.

In the image above, Graham and his ten billion coins are now standing on a standard U.S. football field (360 x 160 feet) for further scale. Next up, the hundred-billion cube.

cres

[ One cube measuring 127 x 127 x 127 feet ]

If you took these hundred billion pennies and laid them out like a carpet, you could cover 14 square miles. Compare that to Manhattan Island, which measures 22 square miles.

The cube you see above is made up of over 4.1 million stacks of 24,330 pennies. Now, we

are getting close to the limits of existing pennies. How many pennies do you think are

currently in circulation?

Current estimates by the U.S. Mint place the number of pennies in circulation at aroun

first penny was minted in 1787, until present-day, over 300 billion pennies have been minted in the United States. So that leaves about 100 billion pennies that have been retired by the Mint, lost down sewer drains, stored in jars, smashed by trains, or collected by numismatists in the past 200 years.

Now that we have reached the limits of what actually exists, let's move beyond, and into the Trillions.

[ One cube measuring 273 x 273 x 273 feet ]

Let's look at this new cube a little more closely to get a better idea of its size.

[ One cube measuring 273 x 273 x 273 feet ]

So, now, the question you're dying to ask: How many Pennies would it take to fill the Empire State Building?

One trillion, eight hundred eighteen billion, six hundred

twenty-four million Pennies

Now what about America's tallest structure, the Sears Tower?

Two trillion, six hundred twenty-three billion, six

hundred eighty-four million six hundred and eight

thousand Pennies

Okay, enough with the buildings, let's take a giant leap forward. What would a cube of one quadrillion pennies look like?

1,000,067,088,384,000

One quadrillion, sixty-seven billion, eighty-eight million,

three hundred and eighty-four thousand Pennies

[ One cube measuring 2,730 x 2,730 x 2,730 feet ]

Okay, now for our final big number - one quintillion.

1,000,067,088,384,000,000

One qullion, sixty-seven trillion, eighty-eight billion,

three hundred and eighty-four million Pennies

[ One cube measuring 27,300 x 27,300 x 27,300 feet ]

This is as far as we will go. Three trillion tons of pennies is quite enough. To imagine larger cubes, (stepping by factors of 1,000), just imagine cubes roughly ten times larger than

the last one. For instance, one quintillion pennies makes the cube above - about 5 miles on each side. If you step up to one sextillion, imagine a cube about 50 miles wide tall and thick.

Thanks for visiting the MegaPenny Project. You can find further related links and a table of named "very big numbers" on our index page.

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