Monday, October 2, 2017

Dream a little dream with me

Your ship finally came in and there was not a dock strike, so there are no impediments to your receiving the huge fortune bequeathed to you by your Great-uncle Alphonse. You didn’t even know that you had a Great-uncle Alphonse, but no matter. The money is indeed yours. You squeal with delight when you learn that you will be receiving one trillion dollars, but there are two catches. The terms of Uncle Alphonse’s will stipulate that at midnight tonight you will begin receiving one dollar per second, but you will not have access to any of the money until the entire trillion dollars has been transferred to you.

Care to guess when that will be? Well, you don’t have to guess because I have done the heavy lifting and figured it out for you. You may be surprised.

First, though, a word of explanation for friends in other countries: In the calculations below, I will be using American understanding of the values billion and trillion, that is, 1,000,000,000 (1e9) and 1,000,000,000,000 (1e12), respectively, and not some other definition of what those terms may mean in other parts of the world. I know. I am an ugly American.

Let's see how long it will take for you to become a trillionaire. Bear with me while I calculate.

By 12:17 AM you will have amassed $1,000 USD. By 2:47 AM you will have amassed $10,000 USD. By 3:47 AM on Day 2 your fortune will have reached $100,000 USD. And in the early afternoon on the eleventh day, you will have become a millionaire.

So far, so good. The entire inheritance should be yours in practically no time and you can begin spending it, right?


You will probably be surprised to learn just how far it is between a million and a billion, and how far it is between a billion and a trillion.

At the rate of $86,400 per day (there are that many seconds in a day) and a million dollars every eleven and a half days, you will become a billionaire in -- wait for it -- 31 years, 8 months. I am not even kidding. But the end is not yet. To gain access, finally, to the entire trillion dollars your Great-uncle Alphonse so generously left to you, you will have to wait a mere 31,710 years.

Editor's note. I fudged a little. To make the calculations easier, I used 365 days in a year. But we all know that thanks to Julian Assange Fellowes Lennon calendars, we add a Leap Day every four years, except every 100 years, when we don't, except every 400 years, when we do, because our earth's orbit around the sun takes 365-1/4 days, not 365. So let's adjust our answer a little. In 100 years time we will have added 24 extra days, which means that in 1000 years we will have added 240 days, which means that in 4000 years we will have added 960 days, plus ten more for those ten years in there divisible by 400. That's 970 days added every 4000 years and we're talking about 31,710 years before you can get your hands on all that money. That's nearly 32,000 years, and 32,000 divided by 4,000 is 8, so multiply those 970 extra days by 8 (I tire of all the exactitude) and assuming you are still alive 31,710 years from now, you'll still have to wait 7,760 more days or another 21 years (approximately) until you can get your hands on all that cash. --RWP

The moral of this post is simply this: Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, because it is a long way to Tipperary.

Yours from mixed-metaphor land,



  1. I can see how you got a job with IBM because in effect you are a human computer complete with cursor and hard drive. By the way, none of my uncles were called Alphonse so I don't expect to be a trillionaire any time soon.

  2. You could have just told me that Great-Uncle Alphonse was a jerk. It would have saved a lot of keystrokes.,

  3. Smiling at Emma's comment. And grateful that my boat (when and if it does come in) carries a much smaller cargo.

  4. I sent all my bank details to a lovely man in Nigeria. I haven't yet received my millions. You are at least honest...I love these number games.
    (I am just starting out with CNC and one really has to think hard where zero is, it is rarely the nadir or zenith.
    In the olden days of capstan lathe automation.. I think you use turret not capstan. Tool setters only had to work in the machining order, feeds, and speeds. Posh American machines like Hardinge with power to the turret tools really stretched me. No space for an air gauge on the capstan. No Cassette tool selection. Daft buggers.)
    I like American HiTech. You share. Here we dress knowledge up in mumbo jumbo as most teachers don't have a clue what they are talking about, they have to as ours regard knowledge as power. Haas came from nowhere and are great machines. Not so good in F1 but they will get there.

    1. Adrian, my dad was a machinist’s mate on a Navy ship in WWII and then worked as a turret lathe and milling machine operator at an aircraft factory for 20 years. You and he would have gotten along great. He didn’t say three/eighths of an inch, he said 375 thousandths.

  5. I used to know an old RAF shaggy dog story which ended with 'It's a long way to Tipperary'. It took almost as long to tell.

  6. Graham, I think I know that story, except the ending I remember is “It’s a long way to tip a rary”.

  7. "It’s a long way to tip a rary.'"

    I always say "tip a canary," because I don't know that a "rary" is.

    Thank you, Rhymes, for this informative post. Now, when I meet a new person, I'll have something to talk to them about.

  8. I didn't mean to overlook Yorkshire Pudding, Emma Springfield, and Elephant's Child. No, I didn't.

    Yorkshire Pudding, thank you for admiring my cursor and my hard drive. In my younger years they practically ran the show. Not so much any more.

    Emma Springfield, I like the way you think.

    Elephant's Child, I hope your boat does come in. The treasure mine was supposed to be carrying was all spent by my benefactors on luxuries like food, clothing, and shelter.

  9. Snowbrush, I have never heard of tipping a canary but I have heard of tipping a cow.