Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trillion Shmillion

That's what I need to do, find some corporate sponsors. Let's see, there must be some group I haven't written derisively about. While I'm thinking, might as well take another whack at this whole "Trillion" issue. After all, I never make numerical errors, I'm quite precise that way.

An alert reader (thanks Chuck!) forwarded me an e-mail explaining a trillion dollars in terms of volume.

First, I have readers AND they're alert? Wow! Third, I've already done my bit for the national dialogue on this topic, months ago. "Gee Wally, that's a lot of money" is more useful than anything Chairman Bernanke's said about the whole mess, after all.

Second, I don't understand why this whole "Trillion" thing is confusing to anybody. There are lots of fun ways to consider large numbers.

Like go outside, and look up at the stars. Personally, I think this is best done after dark. We live in something called the Milky Way. Estimates vary on how many stars are in our galaxy, but 300 Billion is a reasonable guess. So it'd take three Milky Ways (not the delicious candy bar, are you listening Mars company?) to equal one trillion stars. Now go inside; the neighbors already think you're creepy enough without your making it worse.

The only way a person can see a Trillion of anything all in one place is to go look in the mirror. There are ten trillion cells in the human body. Each cell has a function and a lifespan. More individual cells in each person than there are stars in thirty galaxies. And things are really crowded in the large intestine.

Admittedly, a person can't see into his large intestine. While some of us often have our heads positioned perfectly, it's very dark in there. Approximately 100 trillion micro organisms live in the human intestines. These bacteria are very useful, and human babies pick them up via the birth process. Trust me, that's a lot better than what baby elephants have to do... you don't want to know.

So the night sky, stretching end to end, way less than a trillion objects can be seen. The entire Milky Way (which is also the name of a VERY delicious candy bar) contains only a tiny percentage of the busy little units inside a human being. Each and every human being is more complex than a galaxy in many ways.

And I still say, "Gee Wally, that's a lot of money!" And this town the Cleavers lived in, Mayfield? How come no black folks? Where is Mayfield, Newfoundland or something?

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