I'm afraid we are becoming numb to the enormous size of the numbers our government uses. When President Clinton was in office, we talked in millions. President Bush in billions. President Obama throws around trillions.
As a teacher, I used to try to help students understand really big numbers, because the words aren't particularly scary. It's pretty hard to get your head around.
A trillion is a thousand thousand thousand thousand. Not so bad? That's 10 to the 12th power. How about a thousand billions, or a million millions?
Still okay? Current estimates put the number of stars in our Milky Way (the only ones we can actually see) at between 300 and 400 billion--but a fraction of a trillion.
If we had been able to spend a million dollars a day, starting with the birth of Jesus (on which our calendar is based), we would not yet have reached one trillion dollars.
It takes nearly 32,000 years to get to a trillion seconds. Sixteen trillion is sixteen times as long (more than 500,000 years). Are you worried yet? I sure am.