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How Well Can You Visualise Big Numbers?

We read about numbers in the millions and billions every day. But how well can you actually make sense of them?

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It’s been proven that humans find it really difficult to picture and truly understand big numbers, due to our cognitive limitations. Real-world comparisons can help us make better sense of them. This quiz will test how good you are at visualising huge numbers when they're presented through these everyday contexts.

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    Assuming there are 263 calories in the average fast food cheeseburger, you’d need to eat 8,745 of them to hit 2.3 million calories. If you ate a cheeseburger every minute without stopping, it’d take you just over six days to eat them all.

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    It’d take approximately 180 million footballs to fill the Maracanã stadium in Brazil up to the roof. Do this another 16 times, and you’ve housed 3 billion footballs.

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    It’d take you approximately 348,000 days – or 953 years – to spend €348 million.

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    An Olympic swimming pool, at 50 metres long, 25 metres wide, and 2 metres deep, holds 2,500,000 litres of water. If you drank the recommended intake of 2 litres per day, it'd take around 3,424 years to drink enough water to fill a pool of that size.

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    The flight path from Damascus, Syria, to Istanbul, Turkey, is around 1,055km, which is just over 25 marathons in distance.

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    Assuming 10 people can fit into 1 square metre comfortably-ish, 508 million people could fit into a 50.8 km² square. Bern is around 51.6 km² in area. All other cities in this question are bigger than 51 km² in area.

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    You'd need to stack 174 million €2 coins to hit a value of €348 million, and this stack would reach 382km (382,000m) in height. The Eiffel Tower is 300m in height, so the coin pile would reach the Tower's height 1,273 times over.

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    Assuming each person would add 1 foot to the line, 3.2 million people standing single file would cover approximately 975km. The flight path from Bratislava to Lyon is 968km. And 3.2 million is the estimated number of refugees within Turkey alone.

How Well Can You Visualise Big Numbers?

Rather than taking this loss personally, know that humans basically lack the cognitive functions needed to grasp huge numbers properly. Don’t blame yourself; blame your human brain.

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OK, so you’re not amazing at grasping huge numbers, but you’re not all that bad either, especially considering that, as a species, humans are terrible at truly picturing them.

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Given that, in general, people essentially lack the cognitive ability needed to properly visualise big numbers, this result is seriously impressive.

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You must be on a higher level of human evolution. There is no other explanation.

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The European Union is providing €348 million to the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), a multipurpose cash assistance scheme. Through the ESSN, over 1 million of the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey will be able to cover their basic daily needs.

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The Emergency Social Safety Net lets refugees decide how to use the money they receive, to cover essential needs like food, fuel, rent, and bills. The scheme is being implemented by the UN World Food Programme and the Turkish Red Crescent.

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