Wednesday, 3 October 2007

TMB mode

What units do we think in terms of ? Theres this problem always of what units to remember disatnce and time in. when we were kids, we probably could get away with thinking in terms of metres and seconds. now the mind is exposed to lengths like AU (distance to sun) or light year. So also for time. I try hard to remember the age of the universe. It is some odd 13 billion years. And I am not the least upset that I forget this figure all the time. If only someone had told me abt wht 'billion' means as a child , and that too in context of time !
The point is that there is a multitude of range of space and time.
The question I get is how do people remember times and distances. I assume each one has a 'default' unit that he/she thinks in.
for example, we in India I think have been over-exposed to something called 'lakh'. In Europe you relaise that no-one would realise what you are referring to when you say lakh. lakh is this all-importatnt figure that people measure their salaries in in India. wonder if that is the reason its so widely known. perhaps with time as the salaries reach seven-figure mark, million would become a household term.
Thats the point - Million. I think the right way to look at things is from Thousand-Million-Billion (TMB mode I wll say) perspective. Each progressively going up by thousand. 3 zeroes each time. At least when reading scientific literature, I think its useful to be in TMB mode.
And particularly not bad when you think that putting the max. of these under '1' yields 'nano', which is the buzz word these days.