Monday, January 16, 2006

Making a REALLY BIG number understandable

It been suggested the the full cost of our war against terror (at least the Iraq part) may eventually cost $ 2 trillion dollars. It's hard to visualize that large a number, so Hit & Run asked for suggestions on putting that into clear focus. Some of the comments (warning - I don't vouch for the accuracy of the calculations - it's much too early, and I don't feel like it):

  • It's a stack of $100s 1357.32 miles high, weighing approximately 20,000 tons.
  • population of USA (via google): 295,734,134

    2 tril/295,734,134 = $6762.83 per person in US

    population of Iraq (via google): 26,074,906

    2 tril/26,074,906 = $76,702.09 per person in Iraq

    We should try to break down the national debt this way - it might make people less likely to pressure their legislators to "get their share".
  • If you made the average US wage in 2004 it would take you a little more than 56,103,263 years to make 2T.
    Had you been collecting that amount since the split of the common ancestor between apes and humans, you would be about a tenth of the way there.

    At the other end, if you could buy a water molecule for each dollar, you might just be able to see it with one or two Trillion dollars(Googling I found an estimate of 10T molecules in water drop the size of a period).

Any further suggestions?


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