What does one trillion dollars mean to you?

A trillion is, in some sense, a meaningless number.  Perhaps this is a problem with inflation in both our currency and the size of our government--the spending figures are now beyond any normal person's imagining.  In the comments to another thread, two readers try to put some emotional weight to these hefty numbers.



Wiredog says:

A couple years ago someone asked me, as an aid to visualizing the budget, how many transport flights it would take to move $1T worth of $100 bills.

So $1T is 10B $100 bills. 

10B grams is 10M kg

120,000 kg is the capacity of the C5 Galaxy aircraft. So it would take 84 flights to move $1T in $100 bills.

The Galaxy C5 is (she said with stunning understatement), not a small aircraft:

galaxy.jpg

Meanwhile, Colonel Sanders notes:

Imagine you're given $1T on the day Jesus Christ was allegedly crucified.

You spend $1M per day, every day, 365 days a year without stopping for any reason.

As of today, you would still need around 700 years to be completely out of money.

Don't worry, though--I assume when you do run out, there will be a government program to top up your funds.
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Business

Just In