Remember Anton Purisma's lawsuit for 2 undecillion dollars? Randall "XKCD" Munroe has devoted this week's What If? to calculating exactly what $2,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 looks like. He points out that this is a sum larger than the present value of every manufactured good in the world, as well as all the potassium and calcium in the Earth -- more, even than the present value of a planet-sized lump of solid gold.
By weight, the single most valuable thing that's been bought and sold on an open market is probably the Treskilling Yellow postage stamp. There's only one known copy of it, and in 2010 it sold for $2,300,000. That works out to about $30 billion per kilogram of stamps. If the Earth's weight were entirely postage stamps, it would still not be enough to pay off Au Bon Pain's potential debt.
If Au Bon Pain & co decided to be intentionally difficult, and pay their debt entirely in pennies, they would form a sphere that would squeeze inside the orbit of Mercury. The bottom line is that paying this settlement would be, in almost any sense of the word, impossible.
Fortunately, Au Bon Pain has a better option.
Kevin, who asked this question, is a lawyer and author of the legal humor blog that reported on the Au Bon Pain case. He told me that the world's most highly-paid lawyer—on an hourly basis—is probably former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who recently disclosed in bankruptcy filings that he charges $1,800 per hour.
Suppose there are 40 billion habitable planets in our galaxy, and every one of them hosts an Earth-sized population of 7 billion Ted Olsons.
$2 Undecillion Lawsuit
Macarthur "Genius" Kelly Link and her husband Gavin Grant are the forces-of-nature behind the amazing Small Beer Press (previously).
Last week, the Escape Pod podcast published part one of a reading of my YA novella "Martian Chronicles," which I wrote for Jonathan Strahan's Life on Mars anthology: it's a story about libertarian spacesteaders who move to Mars to escape "whiners" and other undesirables, only to discover that the colonists that preceded them expect them […]
Greta Thunberg's Joan of Arc-grade tongue-lashing to the world's leaders at the UN makes for some incredible mashup possibilities: it's not merely that her excellent delivery lent itself to death metal, but also her use of the phrase "right here, right now," was tailor-made for insertion into Fatboy Slim's track of the same name -- […]
There are a lot of different language apps out there because nobody learns anything the same exact way – especially not something as complex as a new language. For some people, the best way is to dive in and start talking, but that’s easier said than done if you’re not around those natives you aspire […]
There’s movie merch and then there are artifacts – one-of-a-kind items for the true fans only. These 11 items definitely fall into the latter category. We’ve unearthed movie art, props and other fan touchstones from the major nerd franchises of the last 50 years. Gaze upon these Star Wars and Marvel collectibles and don’t worry. […]
No matter what kind of office you work at, there’s probably an Excel expert in it. And no wonder: Businesses are still discovering uses for one of Microsoft’s flagship software suites beyond just bare-bones spreadsheets. Make October the month you become invaluable at work by taking one of these boot camps in Excel and its […]