How many zeros in a billion?

tomr | 21:06 Wed 04th Sep 2002 | How it Works
How many zeros follow the 1 in a billion? Why do accountants use the term but engineers don't? And finally, does it depend on your age?

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In an American and English billion there are 9 zeros following the one. (1,000,000,000). Elsewhere in the world, there are twelve zeros following the one. (1,000,000,000,000). This would equal one trillion under the American or English system.
The problem it is different in different countries. In Australia and I believe the Uk as well, a billion is a million million - that is 12 zeroes but in the US a billion is a thousand million - that is 9 zeroes. Hope that helps!
In the UK, a billion is definately a thousand million, i.e 1,000,000,000.
Question Author
You see? the very problem. In the UK it should be 12 zeros and 9 in the US. Dictionary.com's 3rd definition says 'an indefinately large number' my feeling is that that is what the government think we understand it to be. I'm an engineer .... 10^12 - Unambiguous.
As to what is a billion, see above, but as to engineering (and scientific) terms there are a range of prefixes for example for the measurement of meters: 10^18 1Exemeter, 10^15 1 (I can't remember this one) 10^12 1 Terameter, 10^9 1 Gigameter, 10^6 1 Megameter, 10^3 1 Kilometer, 10^0 1 Meter, 10^-3, 1 milimeter, 10^-6 one micrometer, 10^-9 one nanometer, 10^-12 one picometer, 10^-15 one femptometer and 10^-18 one atometer. There are a range of other units, for exmaple a light year with is the distance traveled by light in onbe year, about 94.7 Terameters (I think) or an Anstrong 1^-10 meters or 0.1 nanometers. these terms are convenient for the scale the scientist/engineer is working at, but are also understandable by other workers in other fields and don't carry the ambiguity of 'a billion'. Hope this helps, Hamish
Sorry Einstein, you've got it the wrong way round. A billion is now 1,000,000,000 in the UK, but used to be 1,000,000,000,000
Question Author
TheHitMaker - This is my reason for asking the question, when did it change and how is that change documented? ITS-90 thouroughly documents the changes to the Celsius temperature range (and the change is small - insignificant to most people), but who and where is the documentation for a thousandfold change in financial reporting? If you like your pint you will be most upset if the US pint is introduced rather than the UK one.
Question Author
Sorry TheHitMaker, my last comment was aimed at Einstein's response but I didn't spot the mix-up. Ironical considering the subject .
Question Author
Sadly, a colleague of mine has just found an answer to this one and Iwill have to stop whinging on about it! Thanks folks. http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/large.html gives: "In recent years, American usage has eroded the European system, particularly in Britain and to a lesser extent in other countries. This is primarily due to American finance, because Americans insist that \$1 000 000 000 be called a billion dollars. In 1974, the government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that henceforth "billion" would mean 10^9 and not 10^12 in official British reports and statistics. "
just the 1 billiOn