Friday, January 14, 2005

A Math Lesson

Katie, Toni, and I (two grown women and an eight year old), were talking about the Huygens probe, which by the way, is very cool. Nice science. We read that the whole Cassini mission, including the probe, cost 3.3 billion dollars. Katie asked who paid for it. So one of us said, "we did" - and explained that it was paid for by taxes. So Katie said, "That means we each paid about $10.00?"

Well, I did the math, and sure enough she was about right (I divided 3.3 billion by the current population of the US, which is 295,255,584, figuring the US population was a close enough estimate to the US + Europe + Italy total taxpayers for this rough an approximation -- I though Katie was way off). Katie was right. My math came out at $11.oo, and since I probably estimated the number of taxpayers low rather than high, the number is probably even closer to Katie's guess than that. Smart eight year old. Good instincts.

The Huygens probe was roughly a 25 year project and I think I'm getting very good value (heck, I'd pay that much to see a movie, and I'll spend more time than that reading about Titan).

I decided to see how that number matched up to the Iraq war numbers. Using the same exact calculation as above, I've spent $507 killing people in Iraq.

That's fifty more space missions. Much better than thousands more dead people.

And in case you are wondering, knowing more about the solar system makes me feel safer than the war on terrorism.


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