# The King And The Chessboard Of Wheat

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Humans have many methods to describe large numbers mathematically. Ever since the invention of the concept of zero -- essential to the ancients for keeping good records of various transactions -- humans have been using mathematics to describe ever larger quantities of items. The story of the king and the chessboard of wheat demonstrates that while humans have been using large numbers since the dawn of history; using and comprehending are two entirely different things. In the story, a king tells a clever mathematician that he may ask for any reward he wishes for his services to the kingdom. And so the mathematician asks for one grain of rice to be placed on the first square of a chessboard, and then double that on the second square, and then double the second on the third, and so on. By the time all the rice would be added up, it would equal well over the production of rice in the entire modern world! Needless to say, the mathematician did not receive his reward . The same concept applies to time, at some point the human mind ceases to differentiate between larger and larger timescales.
Like the king and his chessboard, we have trouble contemplating the vast eons of time that lie between us and the creation of the earth. Each day seems like a grain of rice, so small that it seems as though they could never add up to anything substantial. However, looking back allows us to put ourselves into perspective. By examining history, we can see that we have been on this planet for