Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dollars to Saturn

The latest national debt figure as of as of October 29, 2008 at 02:58:51 AM GMT (check often, it goes up) is $10,529,390,498,011.35.

Let’s round that to a nice easy number: 10.53 X 10^12.

Of course, this doesn’t even include the bailouts, which are heading toward 2 trillion dollars.

So I was wondering how far a trillion dollar bills laid end to end would reach. I grabbed a tape measure and found that a typical dollar is about 6 and an eighth inch long. So, as a public service, I set out the calculations using scientific notation, which is apparently a necessity these days when talking about politics.

6.125 inches X 10^12 (this is a one followed by 12 zeros, aka trillion) divided by 12 inches per foot = 5.104 X 10^11 feet. Divide that by 5280 feet per mile and you get 9.67 X 10^7 miles.

Which is the same as 96.7 million miles. The earth is about 24,000 miles in circumference, so I figure that’s a bit over 4029 times around the world. It’s also a little more than the distance from the earth to the sun.

And that’s only a trillion dollars. Multiply by, say 12 (current debt plus the bailout), and you’re out past Saturn.

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