HOW MUCH IS A TRILLION?


David Davis

A few months ago, we wrote a variant of the old chestnut “How much is a billion?”. My boy ventured an question that demands an extention of the concept. (NOTE: I’m using the generally-accepted definition of a “trillion” as being one million millions, or 1E12, NOT 1E18 as was the original imperial case.)

1E12: A CUBE OF DRIED PEAS…60 metres x 60 x 60. That’s 198 feet or 10,000 peas along each and every edge, or 216,000 cubic metres, or getting on for 200,000 tons I would say. Probably fill a good-sized container ship.

31,711 years is approximately a trillion seconds. As the planet coold as it will,  Al Gore’s house in Tennessee is going to be under several dozen feet of permanently-iced tundra by then. Go and give the lying toad a hard time!

About 2.7 billion years is a trillion days, give or take. No plants (let alone any animals) no sponges even. Possibly the first photosynthetic bacteria, the ancestors of many lines iincluding chloroplasts.

One trillion US Dollars: what Gordon Brown’s stalinists waste in an average year. This is not to say that David Cameron’s less-serious and less-resolute stalinists would waste much less.

The solar wattage (reckoned as Watts per sq metre) arriving at 275 square miles of the earth’s surface at mid-day on the equator. That’s a block of land about 15 by 18 miles. The Amazon Rain Forest fixes less than 2% (2E10 or about 20 GigaWatts, per unit block of 275 sq miles) as biomass.

This 15 x 18-mile block of power (1 TeraWatt) is the same, roughly, as the “mean base load” of electrical energy being used by 340 million Western first-World homes, while 100% of them are cooking Christmas dinner in the Northern Hemisphere midwinter – that’s ALL the houses in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey and most of the Muddle East.

1E12 watts is also the gross radiated output of 18 square metres, or 21.5 square yards, of the Sun’s surface. In the UK, this is area of a moderately large sitting room, 12 feet by say 16 or 17. (about 56Gw is radiated per square metre, or the total mean amount of generated electric power normally available to the UK on a good day.)

1E12: The number of atoms in a third of a nanogram of Gold (3.27E-10 grams.) It’s about the size of a bacterium, and you MIGHT be able to see it with a good powerful optical microscope. Or maybe not.

1E12: The estimated number of different antibodies (immunoglobulins) which a human immune system is potentially capable of producing.

I may add more!

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3 responses to “HOW MUCH IS A TRILLION?

  1. If Barak Obama (or anyone else for that matter) wanted to spend a trillion dollars (1,000,000,000,000.00) and spent $1.00 per second, every second until it was spent, he would have to live an additional 1496.7 years from the second he started spending $1.oo!!! That means the USA would be over 1700 years old by the time that simple amount was spent. Now, let’s look at that spelled out. One Trillion Dollars is $1,000,000,000,000.00. Don’t you think it would mean more to the US Taxpayer to see the papers and other documents spell out the amount of money the government is spending every hour??? Say insteat of $10 billion, they would have to write $10,000,000,000.00 in order to realistically present the impact of that amount of money???
    Another example, today, the US government is working to bail out the Mortgage banking industry for $700 billion. That’s the way the papers and other media (including Congress) is presenting it. However, when written out properly, that’s $700,000,000,000.00!! Divide that by roughly (According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 09/24/08 at 01:41 GMT (EST+5) is
    305,238,235 people , and that’s a total of $2293.29 per person (even for those born in the last minute!!!
    So, does anyone have a clue as to what is happening to the average US Citizen? My grandchildren have just accrued $2293.29 each in debt and they cannot vote, work, or do anything at all to protect themselves. This is a crime being invoked on every child in America.
    Something has to stop, or we will be the Late Great United States of America!!!
    Listen to what is being said and react in a manner that will overturn this hypocracy that thrives in Washington, DC!!!

  2. Pingback: How much is a trillion, again? Daubenmire/dave knows! « The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG