Monday, 29 September 2008

Catastrophic numbers

Interesting, then, to be in at the end of Capitalism. If I'd been asked, I'd have guessed it might have staggered on for another decade or so, but... what do I know?

A few months before he died, in 1988, Richard Feynman said:

"You know, there are about a hundred billion stars in a galaxy - ten to the eleventh power. That used to be considered a huge number. We used to call numbers like that 'astronomical numbers.' Today it's less than the national debt. We ought to call them 'economical numbers.'"

Twenty years later, talk of trillions of dollars is common. That's a thousand billion dollars, the number of stars in ten galaxies. Maybe these ought to be called 'catastrophic numbers'.