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  • What does it mean to be one in a million?

  • Not in the greeting card sense,

  • in the scientific sense,

  • where one part per million is a unit of measurement.

  • Parts per million counts the number of units of one substance

  • per one million units of another.

  • It can measure concentrations when a small amount makes a big difference.

  • For example, a concentration of just 35 ppm of carbon monoxide in the air

  • is poisonous to us.

  • We encounter measurements like this pretty often,

  • but because it's hard to conceptualize really large numbers,

  • it's difficult to wrap our brain around what one part per million really means.

  • So here are nine helpful ways to visualize it.

  • If you had 11,363 pianos-worth of piano keys,

  • one of those keys would be about one part per million.

  • So would a single granule of sugar among 273 sugar cubes,

  • one second in eleven and a half days,

  • or four dots in the painting,

  • "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

  • Your bath tub's capacity is about 60 gallons,

  • so seven drops of ink would be one part per million.

  • The English version of the Harry Potter series has 1,084,170 words,

  • which makes "hippogriff" on page 221 of "The Prisoner of Azkaban"

  • a little less than one part per million.

  • A million kernels of corn is about 1,250 ears,

  • so one kernel in that truckload would be one part per million.

  • There are 10 million bricks in the Empire State Building,

  • so one part per million would be a pile of just ten.

  • And finally, 100 people worked together to animate this video.

  • Collectively, they have about 10 million hairs on their heads.

  • Pluck ten of those hairs, and you have one in a million.

What does it mean to be one in a million?

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