Well, this sort of thing has been done before of course, but since that picture has a bit of cash in it I thought it’d be interesting in a random kind of way to start from there. In it I can see a couple of tenners, a couple of twenties and 22 £1 coins. If you were to throw away that £82 and follow it up by throwing away another £82 a minute later and so on and so on then in 24 hours you’d have thrown away just over a hundred grand—£118,080 to be precise—and if you kept it up for a year you’d have chucked just over £43 million. But if you started a little while ago, actually just over two thousand years ago at midnight on New Year’s Day, year Zero AD, then by now you’d have thrown away only—hah, only—£86 billion and some change. Change in this case meaning £730,232,238. Clearly a long way to go to equal the UK’s debt by chucking away money at that same rate of £82 per minute—and let’s be honest if we saw someone chucking away eighty quid every sixty seconds we’d think he was an idiot. Starting from 0AD again, from today you’d have to keep going for another 44,373 years. Worse still, you wouldn’t finish until halfway through October.
Whilst on holiday (because we do these sorts of things), the wife and I tried to work this a slightly different way.
Assuming one number a second, how long would it take to count to one million...?
Well, there are 86,400 seconds in a twenty-four hour day; so, divide 1,000,000 by 86,400...
So, assuming one minute per second, it would take 11.6 days to count to one million (counting non-stop for twenty-four hours per day).
Now, these days, one billion tends to be counted as 1,000 millions, so how long (assuming the same rate) would it take to count to one billion? Well...
1,000,000,000 / 86,400 = 11,574.1 days / 365 = 31.7 years.
That's right: assuming one number per second, for twenty-four hours a day, every single day, it would take one person roughly 32 years to count to one billion.
This year, the government is spending roughly £700 billion which, by the same measure, would take one person about 22,197 years—yes, that's 222 centuries—to count to. So, starting now, they would finish in, roughly, the year 24208.
That's quite long time.