We all have an intuitive sense of how large a number like 10 or 100 is. But is it possible to get some direct grasp on the world’s population, the national debt, the distance to the nearest galaxies, or the time that has passed since the formation of the earth? Mathematicians and scientists do have good ways of understanding very large numbers, which we’ll discuss in this class. Students will do many examples in class, and will write a test at the end with questions like “estimate the number of grains of sand on all the world’s beaches”, or “estimate how fast we’ll have to produce solar cells if we want to meet all new demands on power with solar energy”.

This course will be held Thursday, February 26 – Monday, March 16.