## How much do we owe, um, let me see? Lots. Yes. Definitely,lots.

May 28, 2009

AT 8.50am on 26th Nov 2007 Mathspig stood outside the The Internal Revenue Service (called the Tax Office in Australia) on 44th St New York mesmerized by the National Debt Clock across the top of the building. It was a 13 digit-long digital clock in red  with the last numbers turning so fast Mathspig struggled to write them down. Nevertheless, this is what I wrote:

\$ 9 075 182 859 960

Needless to say, all figures are in US dollars. Y0u can the National Debt Clock on youtube: #mce_temp_url#

By October 2008 it was out of date. By then the National Debt was over \$10 trillion or 14 digits. The clock was one digit short. But just to show that it is great to watch someone else’s National Debt ticking over you can view the current National Debt at zfacts.com : #mce_temp_url#

When mathspig last looked at this National Debt Clock it was:

Adding \$6,000,000 per minute and stood at:

\$11 401 659 454 654

I will round this off to the nearest trillion: \$11 000 000 000 000 Now you will see the cost of rounding off. I’ve just chucked out almost 500 thousand million dollars. That my rubbish bin could be so lucky. In maths we use powers of ten to write big numbers mainly because we are too lazy to write all those zeros:

Problemo 1 : Polish up your powers. You will find a free online powers of ten worksheet at: #mce_temp_url#

Problemo 2: What are other ways of recording these big numbers? They can be written in long hand. How many millions, billions and trillions is the National Debt?

Problemo 3: It is more fun I think to convert this debt into a workable unit. Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, 19, earnt \$25 million to the year ending 30 June, 2008. What is the National Debt  in Harry Potters????????

Meanwhile, Harry Potter may be needed to solve the National Debt problem.

Stop: The lesson to day is, however,  ‘People who collect taxes should be able to count’.