Too Many Numbers

The tracking number on the payment stub for my electric bill is 42 digits long, narrowly beating out my auto insurance, which uses a 41-digit tracking number. By way of reference, it would take about 25 digits to number individually every drop of water on Earth.

I thought this was impressive, until I checked my phone bill. They use an astonishing 55 digits, which is enough to number individually every water molecule on Earth. Put another way, if every star in the universe has nine Earth-like planets around it, and each of these planets has an Earth-scale population, and every inhabitant of each of these planets has a telephone, and each of thse phone owners gets a phone bill once a month for the entire lifetime of the universe, you'd still have ten digits to go around.

Talk about universal service.