Ever tried to visualize the number one trillion? It’s not easy to do — the number is so big, it’s really difficult to wrap your head around.

1,000,000,000,000

One trillion

That’s a lot of zeroes. Thankfully, we’ve got places like the MegaPenny project to help us out — it turns out that one trillion pennies would form a cube 273 feet to a side. That’s roughly half the height of the Washington Monument. The cube would weigh approximately 3,125,000 pounds.

Now, just to boggle your mind a bit further: multiply that cube by 100 times, and you’d have the number of pennies that the Department of Defense can’t account for.

The Department of Defense, already infamous for spending \$640 for a toilet seat, once again finds itself under intense scrutiny, only this time because it couldn’t account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention dozens of tanks, missiles and planes.

[…]

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.

And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet “for pennies on the dollar,” a GAO official said.

As Prairie so eloquently put earlier (and therefore contributed the title for this post) — that’s a big-ass cube.

(via MeFi)