Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JUST WONDERING: How much is 700 billion?

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: (09-23) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- Members of Congress and both presidential candidates found themselves caught Tuesday between widespread public anxiety over the breathtaking $700 billion plan by the Bush administration to bail out a growing class of debtors and their own fear of an economic collapse if they don't act....

The price tag is already more than $1 trillion, when earlier ad hoc bailouts and loans that failed to stem the collapse are included. The administration and Democrats said they do not expect taxpayers to lose all that money because the assets eventually will be sold. However, there is no way to know yet what the actual cost will be. Some outside experts believe the price tag could go higher.

The figures are boggling.

1 Thousand = 1,000
1 Million = 1,000,000
1 Billion = 1,000,000,000
1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000

Still perplexed? Here's some ways to begin wrapping your brain around them:

1) Read "How much is a Million?" by David Schwartz. (How about making this required reading for every American citizen, and make Phil Gram and everyone on Wall Street do a book report?)

2)Look here to see what a million dots looks like.

3) Use salt to get a "feel" for big numbers.

4) Or try counting them yourself, like these folks did.

Okay, got that? Now try to understand the concepts of "a billion" and "a trillion." Take a deep breath...

5) Look at this page. Shiver as you read the following:

If we wanted to pay down a billion dollars of the US debt, paying one dollar a second, it would take 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds.

To pay off a trillion dollars of debt, at a dollar a second, would take about 32,000 years.

A tightly-packed stack of new $1,000 bills totaling $1 billion would be 63 miles high. In comparison, jet planes fly at 30,000 - 40,000 feet (5.7 - 7.7 miles high).

About a billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was in full swing. (One billion minutes is about 1,900 years.)

About a billion hours ago, we were living in the Stone Age. (One billion hours is about 114,000 years.)

About a billion months ago, dinosaurs walked the earth. (One billion months is about 82 million years.)

A billion inches is 15,783 miles, more than halfway around the earth (circumference).

The earth is about 8,000 miles wide (diameter), and the sun is about 800,000 miles wide, not quite a million.

Now all that is not even considering how much it costs to conduct the war in Iraq. For that, look here.


Anonymous said...

I have to ask where the figures came from to calculate "A tightly-packed stack of new $1,000 bills totaling $1 billion would be 63 miles high"?

$1 billion = 1,000,000,000
Divided by $1,000 = 1,000,000 or
1 million so this means you'd have 1 million $1,000 dollar bills. By my measurement, a bill is .004 to .005 of an inch thick (4 or 5 one thousandths of an inch) depending on wear. For sake of arguement lets say they are .005 thick and they are nice neat fresh bills that will stack together with no additional space inbetween - so two bills would be .010 of an inch, three bills .015 of an inch and so on.... 1,000,000 bills times .005 of an inch thick equals 5,000 inches. 5,000 inches divided by 12 inches per foot means there would be a stack of $1,000 bills 416 2/3 feet high. To convert to miles you'd have to divide by 5280 feet in a mile so you'd actually have a stack of $1,000 dollar bills that reached 0.0789 miles. Now to take it one step further - if you wanted to see how high 700 billion in $1,000bills would reach, take the above number and multiply by 700 and the stack would now reach almost 55 1/4 miles high. To determine how high a stack of crisp $1 bills would reach then multiply this number by 1000 and the stack now reaches 55,240 miles. I have to make one disclaimer - I've never seen a $1,000 bill. I can only assume they measure the same (made out of the same material) as a $1, 10$ or a $100 bill. They would have to be considerablly thicker to meet the statement made of 63 miles high.

Rick said...

My estimation: As I write this on Thursday evening,
a million seconds ago was 11 1/2 days ago - Sept. 13
a billion seconds go was January 1977. Jimmy Carter was about to be inaugurated if I recall correctly.
700 billion seconds ago was roughly 20189 years before Christ walked the earth.

Anonymous said...

For the pedants, it's actually about 22,181 years before Christ walked the earth, counting leap years (i.e. using a divisor of 365.25).