Admitedly its out-of-circulation zimbabwe dollars that would be worth maybe $5 if it were still in circulation. Heres what one hundred trillion dollars looks like: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3e/Zimbabwe_%2410...
There fore One Trillion Dollars will fit into
1 000 000 000 000 /
(9 * 100 000 000)
= 1111.111... containers.
Lets round up to 1112 for the sake of transportation convenience.
If we take a large container ship like the COSCO Guangzhou we can see that it will cary 9450 TEU containers.
As you can see one of these large ships can carry
9450/1112 = 8.499
container loads of trillion dollars.
From this we can see that I expected a large container ship to carry much less, so my conclusions is kind of out the window. Damn that is a big ship.
A trillion dollars fits on a ship of roughly that size.
Currency in circulation: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CURRENCY
So the conclusion of the article is false:
"the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase "trillion dollars"... [1.5 acres of double-stacked pallets of $100 dollar bills] is what they're talking about."
USA annual defense spending is $1.35 trillion (more than every other country on earth combined). This does not include the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (hidden in "emergency spending", basically debt sold to China) or the huge medical expenditures to keep tens of thousands of wounded soldiers alive for years after.
1.) The people that post more technical stuff do so from work and don't use HN as much on weekends.
2.) Everyone is in "weekend mode" and wants to post more fun stuff.
3.) I am in "weekend mode" and my desire to click on fun stuff is biasing my impression of what is posted.
It's just that dollar bills look pretty small next to feet. The perspective also makes it look smaller.
One million dollars takes up several duffel bags. Here's a picture I found that I can't verify but HuffPost thinks it's true:
Even if it's not 100%, it's much closer to that than the size of two shoes. Here is a picture from the same article of 100 million:
The text right next to the picture says 100 bundles of $10,0000.
Imagine that full of pallets of $100 bills.
To me that's quite a visual, vertical has no spacial reference.
UPDATE: I did some quick calculations and if my math is right, it's more like over THREE acres for a single stacked pallet. Double stacked as in the image would cut it down to just over 1.5 acres.
To me, large amounts of land are definitely more distinctive than vertical, especially when it takes you a long amount of time to walk across, you get the perspective of your small size in comparison.
Let's say the stack was twice as high as the empire state building, does that really give you perspective? To me that would be meaningless, I have no understanding of such height.