Just for kicks – let’s see how an ordinary person can relate to the number “one trillion”.

To put things into perspective we ask: Who was living in Europe one trillion seconds ago? How many trillion days old is the universe? Which is better, a 100,000 mile or a one trillion inch power-train warranty? How many space shuttle launches would it take to generate one trillion horsepower? Read on for the answers to these questions and a host of interesting facts as we explore one trillion.

One thousand has 3 zeroes, one million has 6 zeroes, one billion has 9 zeroes, and one trillion has 12 zeroes – 1,000,000,000,000. One trillion is one thousand billions, one million millions, and one billion thousands.



There are 60 seconds in a minute, 3,600 seconds in an hour, 86,400 seconds in a day, 604,800 seconds in a week, and 31,536,000 seconds in a year. If the average person lives for 75 years they will have lived (not counting leap years) 2,365,200,000 seconds. To live one trillion seconds that same person would have to be reincarnated over 422 times and live to 75 years each time to have lived for one trillion seconds. That’s over 31,700 years, or, about 26,000 years before writing and alphabets were first used and over 20,000 years before agriculture began with the first domesticated plants. One trillion seconds ago Neanderthals still lived in Europe.

Days / Weeks / Years

One trillion days is 2,739,726,027 years and 142,857,142,900 weeks. Earth is less than two trillion days old. The universe, if we consider the Big Bang its birthday, is a trifle over five trillion days old. The dawn of the universe until now will have to be repeated 73 times for the universe to become one trillion years old.



There are 12 inches in a foot, 36 inches in a yard, and 63,360 inches in a mile. The highest point on earth is Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet above sea level or 348,348 inches. If we cut down straight from the mountain’s base to sea level and stacked them up it would take more than 2,870,692 Mt. Everests to equal one trillion inches. The circumference of the earth at the equator is about 24,900 miles or 1,577,664,000 inches. One would have to race around earth’s equator almost 634 times to equal one trillion inches.

Many cars have power-train warranties of 100,000 miles or 6,336,000,000 inches. A one trillion inch power-train warranty would cover about 15,783,000 miles.  The next time you go to buy a new car try asking for a one trillion inch warranty instead of the 100,000 mile warranty.

The average distance from the earth to the moon is 238,857 miles or 15,133,979,520 inches. It would take over 66 trips (one-way) to the moon to equal one trillion inches. The Apollo missions totaled 10 round trips to the moon (with multiple orbits, etc.).

The sun is an average of 92,955,807 miles from earth or about 490,806,660,960 feet. The distance from earth to the sun is almost 390 times as far as the distance from earth to the moon. One round-trip to the sun would equal about one trillion feet.  It would take about 5,380 round trips to the sun to equal one trillion miles.



One gram (there are about 28.5 grams per ounce) of TNT yields 4,184 joules of energy, 1,000 grams of TNT equals one kilogram of TNT, 1,000 kilograms of TNT equals one ton of TNT, and 1,000 tons of TNT equals one kiloton of TNT. The first atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima, had a yield of 15 kilotons or the equivalent of 15 billion grams (just under 33 million pounds) of TNT. It would take over 66 Little Boy atomic bombs to equal one trillion grams of TNT.


The average car using regular gasoline generates around 200 horsepower (hp), the average Nascar engine using racing fuel produces about 750 hp, the average NHRA top fuel dragster running on nitro methane produces about 8,000 hp, and the space shuttle main engines utilizing liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen produce about 37,000,000 hp. It would take a little over 27,000 space shuttle launches for the main engines to produce one trillion horsepower.  Adding in the solid rocket boosters at 15,000,000 hp each yields a total horsepower output of 67 million per launch. It would cut the number of launches needed to only 14,925 to produce one trillion horsepower, or one launch per day for almost 41 years.

The Point

If you weren’t convinced before you now know that one trillion is a very large number. The point of this whole exercise, other than to irritate my calculator, is to help us grasp the enormity of our budget problems.

The US federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009) was $1.4 trillion. If you handed out $1 per second it would take over 44,393 years to hand out our 2009 budget deficit. Our national debt (debt held by creditors) is about $14.6 trillion dollars right now. It would take about 462,963 years to hand out our national debt at $1 per second. Going back in time from now you would have been handing out bills for over 100,000 years before Neanderthals walked the earth (who you would have handed them out to is uncertain).

Interest on our national debt alone is $383 billion dollars per year or $1.05 billion per day. Bill Gates, the richest man in America in 2011, has a net worth of around $54 billion. If he gave (or the government took) all of his net worth it would only pay the interest on the national debt for a little over 51 days. If the government had all the net worth of the ten richest Americans, totaling $270.8 billion, they could pay a whopping 258 days worth of interest (almost). Our federal government currently spends $1.40 for every $1.00 of revenue it receives. Try that at home and see how it works out. Would you reduce your spending or increase your revenue? Which is easier?

Taking money from the rich will not solve our budget problems. There are too few of them and they don’t have enough money. What is needed is for the average American to be working, earning, and spending which, by turning over money in the private sector, produces more tax revenue than the rich could possibly supply.

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