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Q&A #4053


Name for 3 zeroes

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From: Pat Ballew (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 04, 2000 at 17:43:14
Subject: Re: Name for 3 zeroes

I really have nothing to add to Gail's answer, but I did want to try to
give a view of why others may have had trouble coming up with an answer, and
why you should not feel at all guilty that you did not have a word at the tip
of your tongue.

   There is no consistent math term for this, and the term "period" is
predominantly used only in English speaking countries to the best of my
knowledge.

  Here in Japan they often use a "period" of ten-thousand, and rates on cars
prices or home rentals are often posted as 45 and then a symbol that means
10,000 yen, indicating some unit of rent is 450,000 yen a year or something.
This was also common in the later Greek period when a myriad went from
representing an uncountably large number (as it still does sometimes in
current English) to a number for ten-thousand. As long as this was the last
great number, new huge numbers were expressed in units of myriads (and even
Shakespeare use "millions" in place of "large uncounted numbers").

  The amazing thing is that the language and the culture change so frequently
that new words are popping up all the time, and some become widespread,
others are local use only, others drop from existence after lasting for a
century or more.  The word "Chaos" as a math term is only about 30 years old
for example, and seems to be know world wide.  A Kite is a name for a
geometric object that is considered very standard by classroom teachers in
America, and came into being around 1900, but is almost totally unknown in
non-English speaking nations (in fact John Conway just recently suggested the
term strombus for this geometric shape and is planning to use the term in a
couple of upcoming books).
  So that is why it is so hard to give an answer to a question like "what is
the name for ....".  The answer depends on who you ask and when you ask.

Thanks for writing, my apologies if I gave way more than you cared to know
about this topic.

 -Pat Ballew, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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