Tonawanda News


January 19, 2013

Guns, hostage horse top news


Tonawanda News — Charles Belair of North Tonawanda emailed that he wasn’t sure how Jim James made his calculation.

Charles wrote, “His conclusion that a trillion seconds was equivalent to 2056.71 years is incorrect. Jim Horton was on the right track, correctly calculating that a billion seconds was equivalent to approximately 31.7 years. Since a trillion is a thousand times as big as a billion, that means a trillion seconds will be a thousand times as long as a billion seconds, making a trillion seconds equivalent to 31,700 years. If the national debt ($16 trillion) was measured in seconds rather than dollars, it would be equivalent to slightly more than 507,000 years.

Here’s another analogy that can provide some sense of how big a trillion is. If you were to stack a trillion one-dollar bills on top of each other, the stack would be just short of 68,000 miles high. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches thick, there are 12 inches in a foot and 5,280 feet in a mile. Multiply a trillion times 0.0043 to get the number of inches a trillion one dollar bills is equivalent to, then divide that answer by 12 to get the number of feet, and, finally, divide that result by 5280 to get the number of miles. Sixteen trillion dollars, then, is equivalent to a stack of dollar bills that would be 1,088,000 miles high, enough to go from the earth to the moon and back, do that again, and still have enough left over to get halfway to the moon again on your third trip.

The end.

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email

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