Pick Wayne's Brain

February 4, 2009

How Much is a Trillion, Pt 2

Filed under: Commentary — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:27 AM

In How Much is a Trillion, we talked about how a trillion of anything could relate to us as individuals. For those seeking a great job, one paying $1 for every second, they were unlikely to even earn a trillion dollars, as it would take more than 31,000 years to do it. Remember, that’s $1/second. And it would take more than 31,000 years to spend/earn a trillion dollars. Moving on, for sports fans, we compared a trillion dollars to the amount of money it would take to give every major baseball player on the 40-man roster of every one of the thirty teams, a $250 million contract just like A-Rod’s. And we found that they were short of a trillion dollars, with plenty of room to spare. So much room, that they could have, effectively given every player a $750 million contract, and still not quite reached a trillion, though they would be close. Then we looked out into the depths of space to find that the furthest things we’ve seen out there were about 90 trillion miles away, but the light from them would take 15 billion years to reach us, just so we could see what they were up to 15 billion years ago. Well, here’s some more perspective. We found out from our $1/second job that it would take 31,709 years to reach one trillion seconds. (That’s 1,000,000,000,000.)

One trillion seconds ago, humans were just becoming humans. We used to call them Cro-Magnon, but scientists seem to favor the term “Early Modern Humans” (or EMH) now. Not sure why. Something to do with them not really being all that different from Neanderthals after all. A trillion seconds ago, the Earth was coming out of its last ice age.

A trillion minutes ago saw the beginnings of any form of “mankind” with the emergence of the genus Homo. There are some who would argue that the downfall of Earth began here. I’ll let you folks discuss that one.

A trillion hours ago, we were in the middle of the Cretaceous Period. Flowering plants were starting to dominate the planet. Dinosaurs were still around, but they would soon be gone.

A trillion days ago, multi-cell organisms did not yet exist on this planet. And in the rare places you did find your unicelluar life forms, it was probably because the crust had finished forming in that particular part of the Earth. I wouldn’t invest in real estate just yet, as property values are bound to change.

And a trillion weeks ago, the Earth didn’t exist. Nor did our Solar System, nor the Milky Way galaxy, not any of the other galaxies we’ve seen with our best telescopes. The Big Bang hadn’t even happened yet. And that was just a trillion weeks ago.

If time really is money, then money is time. And at the rate we are spending money on things that are not really helping us at all (such as the endless war in Iraq, or the financial markets bailouts), we will soon be literally spending our way into oblivion.

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