What's the highest number you could count to?

06 February 2017

Question

Simon - If I started counting the second I was born, what number would I reach before I died?

Answer

Chris Smith put this to Timothy Revell...

Tim - To answer Simon’s question, I assume that he would be born today and that means he would be expected to live to about 81 years old and, in seconds, that’s about 2.4 billion second which, honestly, is pretty rubbish. Even if you could count every single second of your life, and you didn’t have to take any breaks for eating, or for sleeping, or for drinking, or anything like that, even if you could count two or three numbers every single second, which you couldn’t. When you got to 100 thousand or 100 million it would take you a few seconds for each number, you still wouldn’t reach a trillion. And I think if you're going to dedicate your life to something you’d want to reach a number that you couldn’t even think of. You want some sort of squillion or quadrillion that people have never heard of, but a trillion you’re not going to reach which I think is pretty rubbish.

Chris - Has anyone tried this? What’s the Guinness Book of World Records say on this?

Tim - the best example I could find was there was a guy called Jeremy Harper who, in 2007, decided to count to 1 million for charity. And he streamed himself 24 hours a day so you could just look in at what he was doing at any given moment and he counted for about 16 hours every single day, and it took him a total of 89 days to finish. So, if you just work that out, for him to get to a billion it would have taken him 143 years, so it’s just not worth your time at all. I mean it really isn’t. Jeremy Harper raised 10,000 dollars throughout his 89 days of counting which, if you work that back, that’s about 7 dollars an hour. So he’s have been better off …

Chris - He’d have been better off getting a job and donating it all to charity.

Time - Yes, absolutely. That’s the worst idea. It’s not good for you in terms of money, it takes a lot of time to count very high, so don’t bother doing it.


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