Archive for September, 2008

What could $700,000,000,000 buy?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Dr. Albert Evil

What would you do with $700,000,000,000?  Well, you could stave off the recession for a few months, but it seems congress didn’t buy into that.  But let’s put this into perspective.  Do you have any idea what you could do with seven hundred billion dollars?  Here’s an idea: solve green energy.

I know, you say, you can’t solve a difficult problem just by throwing money at it.  But my point is, you can solve a difficult problem by throwing money and a million scientists at it.  Seriously.  Back of the envelope:

1 – Hire one million scientists and engineers full time for a few years, and ask them to solve green energy.  Tell them to form groups and share ideas however they like.  Plan on spending about $390 billion here.

2 – To keep them from slacking off, tell them you’ll pick the top 1000 most promising projects after a few years and give them an additional one hundred million dollars funding each for a second phase.

3 – To keep the people in phase 2 from slacking off, tell them you’ll pick the top 100 most promising projects after another few years for an additional one billion dollars funding each for a third phase.

4 – To keep the people in phase 3 from slacking off, tell them the top 10 out of those projects will be selected after ten years or so for a further ten billion dollars funding each for a final phase.  This should be enough for the actual build-out of the technology.  The LHC cost less than that.

You’d even have enough money left over to give the most successful project at the end a ten billion dollar bonus.

The money you’d make back with the technology would be many times the original investment, and the trade it would generate would likely rescue the economy big time.  Speaking of the economy, the companies you’d steal the scientists from are probably considering layoffs anyway, so it won’t have much short-term negative impact.  Also, you don’t need to borrow the full amount at the beginning, since the projects are funded in phases.  This is a doable idea if you’re actually planning to invest $700,000,000,000 into something useful, as opposed to just handing it over to your buddies.

Come on, people, this is just the first thing off the top of my head.  Can’t we get anyone to think more than a few months ahead around here?

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