Inconceivable!

Not the quote from the Princess Bride, but just the mind blowingly large numbers I stumbled across today. I’m not sure how this happened, I was reading one thing, clicked a link, followed a trail, meandered down a path and before you know it, I’m reading some strange stuff from who knows where? 

Anyway, it led me to the study of large numbers. A quadrillion. Something I read made me think, “will there be a quadrillionaire in my lifetime?” And so the Google search began. 

The thing is, it’s hard to understand these numbers. We all know millionaire. A thousand thousands. So, 1,000 piles of 1,000 dollars. That’s 1 million. A billion is a thousand millions. So take the pile you conjured in the first example and create a thousand of those piles….that’s one billion dollars. It’s a staggering amount of money. 

The thing is, a TRILLION dollars? That is then 1,000 billions. 

1,000,000,000,000

That is one trillion. 1 with 12 zeros. But an article I read from The Independent explains it by saying that if you spent a million dollars every single day, it would take you 2,739 years to spend your trillion dollars. Obviously you won’t live that long. So, if you are born with exactly 1 trillion dollars, and you live exactly 80 years, by my calculations, you would need to spend 34,246,575 million dollars each day to spend it all. I really don’t think that’s even possible. I mean, are there enough things? Enough land? Enough houses? How could a person spend over 34 million dollars every single day for eighty years. I don’t think they could. So it is probably impossible, certainly inconceivable, for a person to have that much money. 

Here’s another one. If you had exactly 1 trillion dollars, you could give $140 to every person on the planet, this, again, according to the article above. When I saw that I was fairly underwhelmed. I mean, sure, there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, but still, to give out a measly $140 bucks? Yeah, okay, it’s a nice gesture to give money to everyone, and for third worlders, this could literally be life changing. But, my mind went elsewhere. I assumed, correctly, that it did not divide evenly. Assuming a population of 7,254,897,321 (which is what it was on the World Population Clock at 3:21 pm when I looked it up and if you’ve never seen the WPC, click that link. It’s cool.) that means to give out money to everyone, you can equally give $137.80 to each person. (Population has gone up since the article, which was based on 2012 figures).  Even that doesn’t divide evenly, coming out to 137.83792599, which I rounded to $137.80. Because when you’re giving out a trillion, you don’t want to be the one counting pennies. Here’s the amazing thing. 

Those trailing numbers? They are less than a few cents per person. Negligible. Almost non-existent. Yet, when doing the math, If you gave 137.80 to each person on earth, out of your 1 trillion dollars, you would be left with….

$275,149,166

That’s right. If you gave out 137.80 to every person on earth, you’d still be LEFT WITH over 275 million dollars. 

Mind blown. 

For additional fun facts, remember how I was originally searching a quadrillion? Well, a quadrillion is 1,000 trillions. We’ve amply covered how much money a trillion is…this is one thousand times that amount. So, if you spent your million dollars a day? It would take you 3 million years to spend a quadrillion. 

I found an article from Wired magazine that predicted that Bill Gates would be the world’s first trillionaire and the world’s first quadrillionaire, and says both would happen in my lifetime. The article was written in 1999 and said that Gates would hit trillionaire in March of 2005. And would then become a quadrillionaire by 2020 (assuming the same rate of return). Well, the first date has passed and BG is not yet a trillionaire. So the second, six years from now, is looking like a long shot. There were other scenarios, if Microsoft went in other financial directions, that led to different dates, many of which have not yet come to pass. Honestly, I don’t think it’s likely to happen in my lifetime. BG is estimated to be worth about $80 Billion. Unfortunately, that’s still 920 Billion short of the trillionaire mark. Yes, I know money grows exponentially, but still – seems to me that we’re a long way off from seeing someone calling themselves a trillionaire. 

I’m just still agog over the numbers themselves. It is nearly inconceivable that one person should have that much money. And I may have scoffed, but I wouldn’t turn down my $137.80. Just sayin’

 

 

Chinese Swords

This will be short and sweet. I was just about to order lunch. I have to run out to a meeting but I want lunch when I get back. I’ve decided to give Jimmy John’s another chance (haven’t ordered from them since). I went to my browser and typed JI and then accidentally hit enter, instead of down arrow/enter, to select Jimmy John’s.

This, naturally, brought up a bunch of search results I was not expecting. Beginning with a result for Ji (Halberd) from Wikipedia.

I gaped at that entry and thought, Halberd is a word?

You see, Halberd is the middle name of my cousin Joey. Halberd was a blend of his two grandfathers Hal and Berdell. I always thought that was so cool and a fun way to honor for a middle name. But of course I always thought it was made up. Until today.

Now I suddenly know that a halberd is a type of weapon, a pole looking thing with an ax on it. And the Ji is the Chinese version of that weapon.

Jimmy John’s, China, and my cousin Joey, who knew they had something in common?

(That is our brief TYNKYNK, I believe the first of 2014).

Clearly Defined

For some reason I’m tripping over words I don’t know today. That doesn’t happen to me all that often.

 

Today it happened three and a half separate times before lunch.

1. koan – a nonsense or paradoxical question for which an answer is expected. The thinking of the answer provides meditation or enlightenment.

After reading the definition and sorting it out in my brain, I’m not certain it was used correctly, but it was close enough. And it’s an unusual word, so it entertained me.

2. agrarian – of or relating to land, cultivating land, farmers. Also, wild (as in untamed).

This one came off the farmer’s market website Elena sent me, so I figured something of the sort, especially from context, but I still didn’t know what it actually meant, ergo, I looked it up. Agrarian of me, I know.

3. bagarre – fight or brawl.

Turns out, this is actually a French word, so I’m not that surprised that I didn’t know it. I loved how it was used (woman out in a club with her husband and another woman was being rude; her husband stopped her from stirring up a bagarre). It seemed so natural I could totally see this being adopted. Though, granted, there are a lot of words to describe this, so it isn’t strictly necessary, but cute nonetheless.

3.5 wack and whack – wack is something of dubious, bad, or unknown quality. Sometimes used to denote crazy. “That dude is wack!” whack is a verb meaning to hit something solidly or with force. “I whacked him upside his wack head.”

I actually knew this one, but I looked it up to verify that I was, indeed, correct and the blogger who wrote that she wanted to wack him upside his head was incorrect.

Yep, that’s a whole lot of definition for one morning. And hopefully you learned something.

Tickled My Fancy

I’ve got a thing for words, I’m pretty sure people know that. Since 2013 began, it seems I’ve been stumbling across so many different ones that make me happy. Here’s a sampling.

~Uxorious, which means excessively devoted to one’s wife

~Maritorious, which means excessively devoted to one’s husband

~filipendulous, hanging by a thread

~pogonotrophy, the act of growing and grooming facial hair

~zugzwang, being in a position where any move you make will cause you to lose (or have problems) – this is also a baader-meinhof because I recently heard this word in a television show, Criminal Minds, then bam! it popped up in my word of the day email. (Similar to this morning’s schadenfreude story, except I knew that word, so it was not a bm, but instead was synchronicity).

~ktenology, the science of putting people to death

~tarantism, the uncontrollable urge to dance

~scripturient, the violent need to write

And then there were series of related words. The first is time words:

~overmorrow, relating to the day after tomorrow

~hodiernal, relating to today

~hesternal, relating to yesterday

~nudiustertian, relating to the day before yesterday

~yestreen, yesterday evening.

Then, for fun, series words about series:

~penultimate, the next to last (I already knew this one, but I did NOT know)

~antepenultimate, the third to last

~preantepenultimate, the fourth to last

~ultrapreantepenultimate, the fifth to last (there is some dispute as to whether this is an actual term, but I keep seeing it)

The musical series:

~quaver, an eighth note

~semiquaver, a sixteenth note

~semidemiquaver, a thirty-second note

~hemidemisemiquaver, a sixty-fourth note

~quasihemidemisemiquaver, a one hundred twenty-eighth note (I found this under the heading “Prefixes gone wild”)

The seasonal series:

~vernal, relating to spring

~autumnal, relating to fall

Truthfully, I knew both of those. The vernal and autumnal equinoxes took care of that. However, have you ever wondered about the other two seasons?

~hiemal, relating to winter

~estival, relating to summer

And the group series:

~monad, a single unit

~dyad, a pair

~triad, a group of three

~tetrad, a group of four

~pentad, a group of five

~hexad, a group of  six

~hebdomad, a group of seven

~ogdoad, a group of eight

~ennead, a group of nine

~decad, a group of ten (from whence we get the word decade…)

~hendecad, a group of eleven

~dodecad, a group of twelve (from whence we get the word dodecahedron- or a twelve sided figure)

I could do this all day. There is little I love more than finding strange and bizarre words to help explain the world around me. Everything on here tickled my fancy, hopefully you found a little something fun for yourself. Pop into the comments and tell me which new word (or series of words) you like the best.

And this morning, a co-worker came to chat and said, “What kind of dinosaur knows a lot of words?”

“A Thesaurus”

Yuk-yuk.

Lastly, I’ll top it off with a quote I recently read. It was so appropriate I am thinking of making it my life motto. “This is the sort of thing that is extremely interesting if you are interested in this sort of thing.”

Galileo, the Straight Dope, and Apollo 15

I keep running into this same information and decided that I love to learn new things, so I’m going to share it with you.

It began yesterday, with the Word of the Day email. They tend to separate the words into themes, so each week are themed words. Last week, it was words that derived from animal names, this week, it is 18-letter words. 18 letters because yesterday marked the 18th anniversary of their first issue (March 14, 1994). To celebrate the octodecennary – that’s a real word that means group of 18, which is pretty cool in and of itself – they are running 18 letter words all week long. Yesterday’s word was:

gedankenexperiment

which means “an experiment carried out in imagination, only”.

The site goes on to give examples of the word in actual usage. In this case, they touched upon one of the most famous gedankenexperiments, Galileo dropping items from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is believed that Galileo did not actually do this experiement, he just used it as an example to prove his hypothesis. Prior to Galileo’s time, the major brain of the world was Aristotle, it was Aristotle who surmised that two objects, falling, do not travel at the same speed, the heavier one falls faster. In theory, it sounds correct, but Galileo’s thought experiment showed it false. The classic example is if you drop a feather and a hammer off a building, they will hit the ground at the same time, regardless of the fact that a hammer is much heavier.

Now, of course, this must be under specific conditions, as air resistance will slow down a falling feather, having much less effect on a solid and smooth hammer.

Well, that was interesting enough, and I read it all and moved on. Then, this morning, I was looking something up on The Straight Dope, a website dedicated to giving answers to random questions, a site which I adore. After learning whatever brought me there, I decided to click on the “read a random question” link, just to see what else I could learn. The first thing that came up was about spiders, which creeped me out. I clicked the link to move on and the next thing that came up was this post, entitled, “If a hammer and a feather are dropped together, won’t the hammer hit the ground first?

What are the odds?

Pretty good if you’re the Mistress of the Universe, I suppose.

It’s another clear cut case of synchronicity, which always just tickles me. Then, that post by the Straight Dope went on to explain that this had been scientifically proven true, in an experiment done on the moon, by the Apollo 15 mission.

That’s the video of the actual experiment. It was pretty cool. It’s awesome when learning just comes upon me so easily, must be birthday week! (Tomorrow’s the big day, people, are you so excited!?!?!?!)

Hope you enjoyed your birthday week rendition of TYNKYNK.

Snowstorm

About a week ago, the weather was predicting this HUGE snowstorm. People were talking about it for a week in advance, predicting feet of snow, closed schools, bitter cold, yadda yadda yadda.

I never really gave it much thought. It’s hard to think of a snowstorm when this is such a mild winter.

The day of the storm, I woke up and looked outside to see if the damage had started.
photo

Not so much. A powdery dusting of snow. It wasn’t even snowing when I took that picture. By the time I got to work, the sun had come out and it was warming up. So much for that.

Out of curiosity, I checked the weather online and saw they were still predicting a huge storm, they just downgraded it from snow to rain. It didn’t start raining until the late afternoon. Let me tell you, rain is one weird occurrence in February in Minnesota. When I left work that evening, it was still raining, but it was still also about 35°, so it was pretty mild. It smelled like spring. I headed off for my evening plans. (Dinner and shopping with Elena).

When I finally got home for the day, about 9 pm, things had changed. The temps had dropped and the rain was starting to freeze. As a matter of fact, this was the mirror on my car as I pulled into the driveway (ignore the fact that it’s broken, please).
photo

As you can see, frozen solid, with icicles dripping from the bottom. This does not bode well for morning driving. A few feet of snow is easier to drive in than an inch of ice.

When I woke up in the morning, I turned on my tv. I never use my tv. The last time it was turned on was to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve. But I excitedly flipped it on, hoping to see if I got a snow day. The ticker showing the closings was so long, I was worried I was going to be late for work trying to see if I had to go to work. It rolls alphabetically, I turned it on when it was in the Rs and I needed the Gs. It took 25 minutes to get back around! Meanwhile, practically every school in the state was shut down. I kept watching…and nothing. I checked my work email…nothing. Every school in our area was closed, but, we were open.

I hurriedly got ready and headed outside, to find that the world looked like this:
photo

As you can see, it is not much more dramatic than the morning before. At some point in the night, the rain had turned to snow, but only barely, since the entire world was crusted with ice. Ice is actually particularly beautiful. The tree over my head looked like this:
photo

Can you see the ice crystals formed on the branches? It looked cooler in person. How about a close up?
photo

That is all solid ice.

I started my drive, and as I thought, it was treacherous. I almost rear ended a guy at the first stop sign. I had to drive into the bank on the shoulder to avoid it. I learned and avoided following anyone closely at all.

It is now March and while March can certainly be a snowy month, I’m starting to think we missed our chance at having a snowstorm this year. It’s going to be 55° today and the 10-day forecast has those numbers holding steady (through my birthday! – only 9 more days…)

That’s my short weather story. Not very exciting, I know, but the pictures are pretty. And, I wanted to take a moment to teach a little something as well. A while back, Kelly wrote this story on her blog. At the bottom, she appeals to her favorite librarian to tell her why the frost looks like that.

The answer is it is called hoarfrost. Hoar is just one of the three main types of frost. Hoarfrost is formed when the air is damp – containing water vapor – and the vapor touches an extremely cold surface, such as plants, trees, branches, even cars. The air must be very cold (around freezing or below) and when the water vapor hits the cold surface, say a branch, it freezes instantly, often forming gnarled, or spiky fingers. That is exactly what Kelly saw in her blog post.

That’s a photo of hoarfrost I snagged from Google Images.

For the record, the other two types of frost are rime frost and fern frost. Rime frost is created when a damp, icy wind blows over things and it leaves a trail of frost which makes things look like they are frosted or have icing around the edges. Rime frost looks more like this:

Just a bit of frosting around the edges. Rime frost also looks like this:

I think, in MN, this is the most common type of frost that we see, because rime frost can only occur in very cold temperatures, far, far colder than hoarfrost. But, this winter has been so mild, that’s why Kelly saw a terrific example of hoarfrost.

Lastly, the final example is fern frost. Fern frost forms on windows. It happens when dew drops (moisture in the air) hits a cold window. They freeze into ice. But then more moisture freezes on top of the ice and eventually they form what look like icy patterns on the windows. If you live in MN I know you’ve seen this.

That can form on your car, your windows in your house, really any smooth cold surface. (all frost pictures are from Google Images)

A couple other things to note. The term hoar comes from the Old English and is used as an adjective to describe something showing signs of old age. It comes from the frost making trees and plants look like they are elderly, with white hair.

Frost is always white because the crystals contain air.

According to folklore, Jack Frost creates frost by running his icy fingers over windows (and plants I suppose).

In order for frost to form, the surface (on which the frost will form) must be colder than the air. This is why frost forms most readily around cracks in sidewalks, walls and doors and also on the edges of windows. It also explains why a car will frost more readily than concrete or the ground itself.

Think that’s everything you ever wanted to know about frost? Me too. But, I promise, the next time I notice frost, I will inspect it closely and see if I can determine which type it is!

That is your cold weather edition of TYNKYNK. Thanks, Kel!

 

Leap Day

Today is February 29. Leap Day. Having one officially makes this a leap year. The question is, why?

Everyone seems to know that leap years are every four years. Leap year means we get an extra day in February, the 29th. In the past, I’ve talked about traditions of leap day, but I’ve not bothered to explain it in all my blogging years (yep, this is my second leap day!) Since it’s been a while since we’ve had an edition of Things You Never Knew You Never Knew (TYNKYNK), I’ve decided to educate you a bit today.

Leap years occur every four years. They only happen in even years. Specifically, they are in years divisible by the number four. (2012/4=503, so that works. 2014/4=503.5, so, no leap year). I also found, interestingly, and confusingly, that years evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, even if divisible by four. Unless, of course, they also happen to be divisible by 400. How bizarre is that? So, 2000 was a leap year because 2000/4= 500. 2000/100=20. And 2000/400=5. However, 1900, which is divisible by 100 (19) and by 4 (475) is not divisible by 400 (4.75) so it was NOT a leap year.

Confused yet?

I was, too. Luckily, there is an explanation.

A year is 365 days. We all know that. However, scientifically, a complete rotation of the earth around the sun actually takes 365 days and six hours. So, every year there are six extra hours. Six hours a year for four years makes up 24 extra hours…or one day. That’s why we have a leap day every four years, in order to keep the sun’s position in line. Adding the extra days burns those extra hours and all is uniform year after year. If we didn’t do it, then gradually the sun would start being in different places as time, eventually, winter would become summer and summer would become winter. Can you imagine how strange that would be? No, I’m serious. After 100 years, our calendar would be off 24 days. May 1st would feel, weather-wise, like April 6th. Not a huge deal, initially, but after 2 years, losing 48 days would make May 1st feel like March 14th.

Of course, there’s still all that divisible by 400 and not 100 garbage to figure out.

The simple answer is that it does NOT take 365 days and 6 hours, it actually takes 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes and 16 seconds. Because of math I will not scare you with, that works out to only having century leap years in years divisible by 400. Our calendar exactly repeats itself every 400 years and we end up with 97 leap days.

The most common day for a leap day (tied with Monday) is Wednesday. Today is a Wednesday leap day.

In the US, if you are born on a leap day, your legal birthday is the day before. So, if you are born today, February 29, 2012, you will turn 21 years old on February 28, 2033.

If you are born on leap day, you are automatically invited to join The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. (Yep, that’s a real thing).

Lastly, in our tour of all things leap day, if you are a salaried employee, you are very likely volunteering your time today. Congrats to all of you who did NOT get a snow day and still showed up to work, for free. Annual salaries are calculated based on a set number of hours worked per year (2,080) yet, because of leap day, you will actually work 2,088 hours this year, with no extra pay.

Happy Leap Day to All and Sundry!