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Reblog: Putting Bill Gates in Proportion

[Feature photo above by Baluart.net.]

Here’s a blast from the Let’s Play Math! blog archives: Seven years ago, one of my math club students was preparing for a speech contest. His mother emailed me to check some figures, which led to a couple of blog posts on solving proportion problems. I hope you enjoy…


Putting Bill Gates in Proportion

A friend gave me permission to turn our email discussion into an article…

Can you help us figure out how to figure out this problem? I think we have all the information we need, but I’m not sure:

The average household income in the United States is $60,000/year. And a man’s annual income is $56 billion. Is there a way to figure out what this man’s value of $1mil is, compared to the person who earns $60,000/year? In other words, I would like to say — $1,000,000 to us is like 10 cents to Bill Gates.

Let the Reader Beware

When I looked up Bill Gates at Wikipedia, I found out that $56 billion is his net worth, not his income. His salary is $966,667. Even assuming he has significant investment income, as he surely does, that is still a difference of several orders of magnitude.

But I didn’t research the details before answering my email — and besides, it is a lot more fun to play with the really big numbers. Therefore, the following discussion will assume my friend’s data are accurate…

[Click here to go read Putting Bill Gates in Proportion.]


Bill Gates Proportions II

Another look at the Bill Gates proportion… Even though I couldn’t find any data on his real income, I did discover that the median American family’s net worth was $93,100 in 2004 (most of that is home equity) and that the figure has gone up a bit since then. This gives me another chance to play around with proportions.

So I wrote a sample problem for my Advanced Math Monsters workshop at the APACHE homeschool conference:

The median American family has a net worth of about $100 thousand. Bill Gates has a net worth of $56 billion. If Average Jane Homeschooler spends $100 in the vendor hall, what would be the equivalent expense for Gates?

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72pencils

Math Teachers at Play #72 via Christy’s Houseful of Chaos

mathteachersplay72

[Feature photo above is 72 Pencils by fdecomite via flickr.]

Math Teachers at Play is a traveling blog carnival. It moves around from month to month, and the March edition is now posted at Christy’s Houseful of Chaos. What a fun list of math posts to browse!

This is the 72nd Edition of the Math Teachers at Play (MTaP) blog carnival!

The number 72 is a Harshad number in number bases from binary up to but excluding base 13. Harshad numbers are numbers that are divisible by the sum of their numbers. They are base-dependant. In binary 72 is expressed 1001000. Add the digits together to get 2, one of the factors of 72. With a base of 5, 72 is expressed 242. With base 6 it is expressed 200. You can play around checking the bases of different numbers with an online calculator.

Now on to the math posts….

Click here to go read the whole carnival.


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