Million, Billion, Trillion
I came across this information when I was looking up, for my latest science fiction novel, a way of expressing the difference between a million, a billion and a trillion.
My current novel takes place at several different levels, on several different orders of magnitude. To keep my dates straight, I have to use
1. my small scale timeline (covers the decades between AD 1 and AD 2400)--my hero travels to an antimatter star 50 ly distant, and back again.
2. my middle scale time line (covers AD 1 to AD 70,000) -- my heroine travels to a Messier object galactic cluster outside the plane of the Milky Way, some 35,000 ly distant.
3. my large scale time line (covers 1,000,000,000 BC to AD 2,000,000,000: the period of the war between the unified intelligence of the Andromeda Galaxy and the slowly-coalescing galactic intelligence of Milky Way. My characters blow up a few clusters of galaxies in their war, an get dragged before the ruling mass-mind intelligence of the Virgo Group, which contains 2000 galaxies, so the loss of one or two of Virgo's "parts" while my hero is duking it out with my arch-villain eventually comes to her notice.
4. my very large scale time line (covers from 12,000,000,000 BC to AD 500,000,000,000 or thereabouts: the time scale of the struggle for supremacy between the Horologium Supercluster (900 Million lightyears away) Corona Borealis Supercluster (1 billion lightyear away in the opposite direction).
5. I move to an extreme large scale to introduce the entities living beyond the event horizon of the universe, 15 billion lightyears distant and receding. I don't have a time line for these events.
I wanted a way of visualizing the differences in orders of magnitude, to make it clear to my readers. I was planning my curtain scene to take place some five hundred billion years in the future. Half a Trillion. Think that is a big number?
By way of comparison:
A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
A million minutes ago was – 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago.
A billion minutes ago was just after the time of Christ.
A million hours ago was in 1885.
A billion hours ago man had not yet walked on earth.
A million dollars ago was five (5) seconds ago at the U.S. Treasury.
A billion dollars ago was late yesterday afternoon at the U.S. Treasury. [Note: this was pre-Obama]
A trillion dollars is so large a number that only politicians can use the term in conversation.
Here is some perspective on TRILLION:
Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000.
The country has not existed for a trillion seconds.
Western civilization has not been around a trillion seconds.
One trillion seconds ago – 31,688 years – Neanderthals stalked the plains of Europe.
By way of comparison: This is the national debt of the United States. Eleven TRILLION and climbing. This is more debt than all previous debt in history combined.
That is how much you owe, O Taxpayer. Look at your income, your last year's taxes, and multiply that by the population of the United State (divided in half, since roughly half our population pays no income tax). How many generations of your children and grandchildren will be paying?
Now do the same calculation again, but this time (1) compound the interest on the debt and (2) subtract the national budget for each year, and assume spending will continue with more medicare, social security, medicaid, bail-outs, overseas wars, major acts of terror in major cities, and government purchases of banks, housing markets, and medical industries -- all these things are expensive (and all but two are government actions not permitted by our written Constitution).
Repudiation of the debt means collapse of the money and credit system.
Please note that National Debt of this type cannot be contracted by any government which ties its currency to a hard metal money standard, as God and the laws of nature discovered by Adam Smith ordained. This debt is insane: but why it is that politicians who talk about the Gold Standard are dismisses as far from the mainstream? Why is it that politicians who talk about restricting the federal government to its enumerated powers (as it is clearly written and promised by our supreme laws) as regarded as crackpots and dreamers?
I have a question for Uncle Sam and the press and opinion makers who speak for him -- You run up a debt like this and you have the effrontery to call Ron Paul insane? I wonder what your basis of comparison is.
To any science fiction readers reading these words: did you actually wonder why we do not have the flying cars, the moon bases, the manned Mars landing, the O'Neil colony, the Orion drive, the rocketships to Jupiter, maybe even the beginnings of an interstellar ship, not to mention the medical advances in geriatrics and prosthetics, cell regeneration, even the eternal youth envisioned by our optimistic fathers when they wrote SF? That is because those books were written, by and large, before 1968, before the Baby Boomers, before the Flower Children and the Me Generation and Generation X.
Where is my moonbase? Sorry, kids. Your parents, the Boomers, spent all their money. Then they spent all your money. Then they spent all your children's money, and your grandchildren's.
Moonbase? Mars landing? Can't afford it. Count yourself lucky was have a Hubble Telescope. At least we can see what we will never reach.