According to the United Nations, worldwide revenue generated by criminality is $2.1 trillion dollars, making crime one of the world’s top 20 economies. Even though we are rather used to seeing TV reports of suitcases and shopping bags full of police-confiscated cash, the word trillion somehow is beyond most people’s imaginations. The problem is, depending on where you live, 2.1 trillion is written differently.
In Brazil, 2.1 trillion looks like this: 2.100.000.000.000,00
But in the USA it looks like this: 2,100,000,000,000.00
And that brings me to the other confusing thing; there is a long scale and there is a short scale. These scales are simply naming systems that use the same words with different meanings. The long scale is based on powers of one million, and the short scale is based on powers of one thousand. It is the short scale that is the most-used in the financial and the scientific worlds nowadays.
A French mathematician, Geneviève Guitel, (1895 – 1982) introduced the short scale in 1975, and it has stayed to challenge us. For example, Portuguese-speaking countries, with the exception of Brazil, use the long scale. Most countries in continental Europe, French-speaking countries and Spanish-speaking countries also use the long scale.
The short scale is used in most Arabic-speaking countries, English-speaking countries, the former Soviet Union and a few other countries. However, some countries in Asia have their own systems that are neither long nor short scales, and there is one used in India that is particularly confusing.
Here is a map showing where the different scales are used. In case you can’t make out the key, pink countries use the short scale, blues use the long scale, purples use both, yellows use their own, and there is no data on the white countries.
The long and short scales are used mostly for counting money. For whole numbers less than a thousand million, the two scales are identical; the scales only diverge from a thousand million up.
On the long scale:
1.000.000 () = a million (one thousand thousands)
1.000.000.000.000 () = a billion (one million millions)
1.000.000.000.000.000.000 () = a trillion (a million billions)
On the short scale:
1.000.000 () = one million (one thousand thousands)
1.000.000.000 () = one billion (a thousand millions)
1.000.000.000.000 () = one trillion (a thousand billions)
After that, we go to a quadrillion, then a quintillion. From there, we can go to a Sextillion, followed by an Octillion, and then a Nonillion and finally a Decillion. Just add the zeros depending on which scale you want to adopt. And think about buying yourself a puzzle to put all these numbers into practice.
You need to keep in mind that the important thing is the end value, not the name you give it. For example, the 2.1 trillion we started with refers to 2.1 x (times) 1012, meaning 2.1 followed by 12 zeros. But whether you’re talking about billions or trillions, it’s a whole lot of money, which is probably why criminals stay in their high-risk businesses.
Tattoos have been around for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians, for example, used tattoos to differentiate between peasants and slaves, a kind of social branding. But ink art, which is what some fans like to call tattooing, has really exploded in the past 25 years. But not all of us have succumbed to this fad. And many of us who don’t have a tattoo have a favorite mug. Having a tattoo or becoming attached to a mug are not dissimilar. According to research, 60% of Americans say they have an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. And about 40% said their special mug was irreplaceable, and about 1/3 of those said they would be devastated if it broke. Personally, I think that most of these people don’t have tattoos. Mugs and tattoos are both an extension of our personalities, and both express the way we would like the world to perceive us. That is not to mention, of course, that those of us who have tattoos or mugs are often irrationally attached to them.