John Wheeler: When numbers get too big they become astronomical

During a heavy thunderstorm, more than one trillion raindrops will fall on a square mile.

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FARGO — At what point does a quantity of things become astronomical? Populations of cities are measured in the thousands. Our planets greatest population centers are measured in the millions. The planet's population is measured in billions. It is estimated there are 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Depending on the variety, an acre of land can yield 10,000 to 18,000 ears of corn. Ten thousand acres would produce 100 to 180 million ears. Farmers in the state of Iowa produce somewhere around 300 billion ears of corn in a good year. Billionaires have billions of dollars but that is a single amount. No billionaire has a billion actual, individual dollars. During a heavy thunderstorm, more than one trillion raindrops will fall on a square mile. If that storm is 5 miles wide and travels 200 miles, that would be something on the order of one quadrillion raindrops.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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