Making big numbers visual

What’s the difference between a billion and a trillion?

We have an intuitive sense of the value of money when it comes in amounts we encounter in everyday life. The sudden loss or gain of £5, £500, £5000 is an event we can imagine and feel. But once we get into large numbers, we lose our sense of perspective. A $40 billion company, a €400 billion budget, a £4 trillion deficit – it is difficult to get a handle on astronomical figures.

Yesterday I was sent the following pictures. (If you are the designer behind them, please get in touch, I would love to give you full credit!). They give a visual representation of large amounts in piles of $100 bills.

Here is $1 million and its lucky owner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is $1 billion and the same man, looking curiously underwhelmed.

 

 

 

And here is $1 trillion with our rich friend cutting a tiny, speck-like figure at the bottom left.

 

 

 

 

I’ve blogged before about bringing numbers to life verbally. This is an incredibly powerful way of doing it visually.

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