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On Aug. 31, the National Debt hit the $16 trillion mark. I’ve often remarked that if people really understood numbers, they would never allow the government to amass such a debt. But hey, it’s just a number, right?
Yeah, 16 trillion is a number. It happens to be a big number. Big. Really big. Really really big.
But I really really don’t have enough space in this column to insert enough reallys to make my point. Let’s just say it really really is really really darn big.
The problem with big numbers is that our brains simply aren’t wired to comprehend them. Really.
For example, in the night sky you’ll see lots of stars (in New Mexico that is — don’t try this in New Jersey). There’s something like 8,000 stars visible to the naked eye.
But there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. That number dwarfs the 8,000 we see at night.
And 16 trillion? Well, you would need 90 Milky Way galaxies to have 16 trillion stars.
No, this doesn’t do it. Our brains can’t easily visualize galaxies. How about something smaller, like an eyelash? Sixteen trillion eyelashes would weigh about 3,500 tons!
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