With the recent furore over LCROSS, the current STFC funding debacle and much recent discussion of manned spaceflight, I was reminded of this wonderful image showing the meaning of a billion dollars. It is relevant to astronomy because it puts into perspective where space exploration and research sit amongst several other massive enterprises. We are, after all, often told to spend the money on something else.
When you begin to consider such figures in relation to each other then your whole world changes! For example the Iraq War ($3000 billion), worldwide spend on advertising ($320 billion) and the Internet porn industry ($97 billion) are seen in stark contrast to the defense budget of Russia ($11 billion) and the global gift card market ($29 billion).
NASA’s annual budget was just about $17 billion for 2009 and the entire annual UK STFC budget is about $1 billion.
This image comes from Information is Beautiful, which if you’re not reading you should be. It is a fabulous blog collecting together (and creating) some amazing and insightful data-art.