Sometimes it takes a non-numeric explanation to make numbers hit home. For example:
A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said Thursday. The squid, weighing an estimated 990 lbs and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t easily imagine a 990-lb, 39-foot squid. The numbers are so far off my conceptual squid scale that they don’t mean much beyond “huge.”
I could try to relate the numbers to something more familiar, but a squid expert saved me the effort with this deft analogy: “If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires.”
Ah, that big.
[The quotes are from an AP article about the squid in question.]