Light Year and the Mathematics of the Stars

Last week, we have talked about large numbers and one million. In this post, we will talk about some of the practical uses of large numbers.

One of the uses of large numbers is to measure long distances; for instance, distance between celestial objects. Shown below is a table of the distances of the planets from the sun and from earth rounded off to the nearest thousand kilometers. Giving a speed of a commercial airline (approximately 500 kilometers per hour), a trip from Earth to Venus will require us 10 years of travel while traveling to Pluto will require us 1,306 years. Shocked?

*By the way, Pluto has recently been demoted. Recent updates made it clear that it does not qualify being one of the planets. » Read more

Large Numbers and One Million

Large numbers are seldom used by ordinary people like us. Most of our lives, we only use numbers less than 100. We usually have 3-5 siblings, 5-10 friends, 30-40 classmates per academic year, 80 books.

Money is probably the first quantity that we count in thousands. A baseball or basketball game will usually attract several thousands of people. Pound for pound Kings Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will most likely attract hundreds of thousands of spectators in an open field, but you would probably better stay home if you’ll be standing a kilometer away from the ring.

The latter two situations involve larger numbers than usual.  Quantities larger than these are actually very hard to estimate unless we find a systematic way of counting.  For instance, it is hard to estimate the number of persons attending a basketball game if we do not know the area of the stadium.

Our inability to handle large numbers comfortably gives us reasons to convert it to other units. If it’s hard to measure in meters, then we convert it to kilometers or miles. It is probably impractical to measure the area of Australia in square meters. » Read more

Using Mathematics to Win the Lottery

Lottery Basics

Many of you are probably familiar how lottery works.  A lottery is a game where a smaller group of numbers is chosen from a larger group. If you bet on the right combination, you win the jackpot prize, which is usually staggering.


Although there is a common concept about lottery, there are variations in different places or countries.  In this post, I will use ours as an example. In the Philippines, as of this writing, we have three types of lottery: 6/42, 6/45 and 6/49. Yes, you guessed it right, 6/42 means 6 numbers are randomly chosen from a set of numbers from 1 through 42. We use the 6/42 lottery in the following discussion. » Read more

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