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Fun with Nano Numbers!

June 5, 2013

Eli Bossin

NISE Net partner Becky Wolfe of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis recently shared some fun nano math she and a colleague calculated over lunch:

We were talking at lunch today (we being my fellow museum educators) about the recent mini-marathon in Indy.  Our discussion was why it was called a mini-marathon if it was really a half marathon.  One of my colleagues said she was only interested in a nano-marathon. That got me thinking – exactly how long would a nano marathon be. Here’s our math.

1 marathon = 26.2 miles =1,660,032 inches

1 billionth of a marathon would be .0016 inches, if you round up , that would 2 thousands of an inches.

To be fair, we measure nano meters in the metric system, so here’s the same thing in metric.

1 marathon = 26.2 miles = 42,164 meters

1 billionth of a marathon would be .04 mm

Soooo…a nano-marathon is 0.002 inches or .04 mm.  Every time I take a step, I’m running multiple nano-marathons.


All this talk of mini-marathons vs. nano-marathons got Vrylena Olney of the Museum of Science, Boston thinking about the NISE Net's mini-grants vs. nano-grants. Here are her calculations:

If a grant is $40,000,000 (approximately the full 10-year NISE Net grant), then a nano-grant is 4 cents. Which is why I think everyone should be pleased we give out mini-grants instead of nano-grants.

Our mini-grants are on the order of 10 ^-4, so somewhere between milli-grants (10 ^-3, or $40,000) and micro–grants (10 ^-6 or $40).

On the other hand, you define a grant as $3 million, then a nano-grant is a third of a cent, and our mini-grants are actually milli-grants. And the NISE Net is a deka-grant.