At the time of writing this article (1 June 2009), the current US Federal Debt stands at $11.3 trillion. The sheer magnitude of that figure is difficult to comprehend.
In order to illustrate just how large that number is, consider the following...
The size of a dollar bill is 6.6294 cm wide, by 15.5956 cm long, and 0.010922 cm in thickness. It would take approximately 96,721,648 dollar bills to make up one square kilometre.
The volume taken up by these dollar bills would be 12,745,078 cubic meters. This would fill nearly 96% of the largest building in the world, the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington designed to assemble Boeing 747 planes.
If we were to cover an area with enough dollar bills equal to the current US debt it would have an area of 116,692 square kilometres which would more than cover the entire state of Ohio!
When stacked, the number of dollar bills required to represent the US debt would be 1,232,724 km high. This is over three times the average distance to the moon!
Laid end to end the dollar bills would measure 1,760,216,577 km which is longer than the distance of Saturn at its furthest distance from the Sun. The next furthest planet, Uranus, is 2.974 million kilometers away from the sun (about $19.1 trillion required).
Thought of in this context, we can truly say that the US debt is astronomical!