Thu, 2 Apr 2009

Big Numbers

— SjG @ 1:19 pm

There are 1011 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

— Richard Feynman
US educator & physicist (1918 – 1988)

A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars — billions upon billions of stars.

— Carl Sagan
Astronomer, author, & media personality (1934 – 1996)

Even though Wikipedia claims 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way, Feynman’s number varies by only a couple factors of two.

According to Oxfam, there has been $8.4 Trillion spent on bailouts. So, call that about US $21/star in the Milky Way. That’s a lot of money.

Oh, but doesn’t stop there. According to the Office of the Comptroller, the “notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks” is around $200.4 trillion. So call that US $500/star in the Milky Way.

As has been widely reported, DK Matai, the Chairman of the ACTA Open, has published that the outstanding value of the derivative market worldwide is US $1.1 Quadrillion. That’s a cool US $2,750/per star in the Milky Way galaxy.

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