The AP fails tenth-grade maths

Thus spake the Associated Press, in an article about the hottest new travel souvenir, hundred-trillion-ZWD notes (previously on JRE):

Scientists and physicists estimate the number of atoms in the universe at 10 to the power of 80 – 10 followed by 80 zeros.

During the worst of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown and hyperinflation, Zimbabwe’s highest money denominations were logged at 10 to the power of 25 – 10 followed by 25 zeros – or the equivalent of nearly one third of the number of atoms estimated in the universe.

No no no no no no no.

1025 is not one-third of 1080.

1025 is one-1055th of 1080. Which is a lot smaller than one-third – it’s one-10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000th.

This is tenth-grade maths, if you go by the NSW Board of Studies’ syllabus, and the AP has spectacularly failed. See me after class, AP journo.

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