Saturday, September 27, 2008

$ 700 billion will buy a lot of taq, LB, submarines, and other things

I know, my research tends to be expensive as I work on deep sea organisms and do genomics and such. But for $700 billion, a lot could get done in my work areas. Here are some things one could get for that amount of money that directly relate to my work (this was inspired by a conversation with Drew Endy Friday)
  • 1,400,000 Roche 454 Sequencing Machines (for $500,000 each). If you had money for reagents, that would get you a lot of sequencing.
  • 70 million bacterial genomes (at $10,000 each for the shotgun sequencing)
  • 280,000 liters (yes that is right, liters) of Taq polymerase (at 100$/40 ul)
  • 29.16 billion liters of sterilized LB broth (from Sigma at 12$/500 ml). That is one big vat of LB. It is also about 11,666 olympic swimmings pools worth of LB.
  • 7 billion copies of my Evolution textbook
  • 7 million people years of computational biologists to analyze data (at $100,000 per person year)
  • 538 million open access fees for publishing in PLoS One (at $1300 each)
  • 116.67 years of the National Science Foundation's Budget (at current costs of $6 billion per year)
  • A fleet of 32,407 Alvin submarine replacements (at 21.6 million a pop). Think of all of the deep sea work that could be done
  • Registration fees for 350 million people to go to the AGBT meeting in Marco Island
  • 28 million special guest appearances by Craig Venter (assuming he charges a 25,000 speaking fee, which is probably a bit high)
So it goes. I was always thinking of writing this type of blog about the money spent on the Iraq War. But this "bailout" $$$ got me thinking again.

And please post your own lists of what else this $$$ could buy.


  1. Its not really a 'bailout'. Why does everyone think its such a bad idea. It wouldn't even cost $700 billion if they just extend the term of the mortgages as I suggested they should.

    Theres nothing scary about investing in your own land, especially at bargain prices.

  2. Well, clearly not everyone thinks it is a bad idea. I was merely pointing out that, well, it is a $&#$ lot of money.

  3. thanks for this. I have been waiting for some of the major newspapers to put this number in perspective. You got there first.

    my favorites are:

    7 billion copies of my Evolution textbook

    116.67 years of the National Science Foundation's Budget (at current costs of $6 billion per year)

  4. I think my favorite is the 32,000 or so Alvin submarine equivalents.

  5. If you're going to be using that much LB, you should be making it up yourself (the way we cheap folks do). On the other hand, you'd need a whole lots of autoclaves to sterilize that much LB.

  6. With $700 billion, dont you think we can afford to buy the LB premade?

    Also - imagine the # of people required to make all that LB

  7. Don't forget: 233,333 projects to study bear DNA in Montana, with a million bucks leftover for publication charges.

  8. The bear DNA in Montana thing kind of pisses me off. I am from Montana. I know the people working on the project and they are trying to figure out if grizzly bears are recovering from the population bottleneck, i.e. they really ARE still in danger (endangered). Of course, you wouldn't expect much from a group of people that don't care about global warming and polar bears and like shooting wolves from helicopters.

    Maybe we could fund a few million more high school science teachers so the average IQ would go up a few points and critical thinking skills might keep us out of these messes in the first place.

  9. yeah, the bear thing pisses me off too ... i love the idea about all the science teachers ... we could even hire tutors for all the politicians.

  10. Hey! Amazon is discounting your book at the moment (it's a mere $88, and it'd be a bargain at twice the price), so your $700BN will in fact buy you 7.955 billion copies instead of the 7 billion you believed! Why, that's almost a copy for everyone in the world!

  11. Well, I pledge to use any of my book profits from this $700 billion to feed back into the system and buy yet more books. I am sure that will put us over the top and get 1 per person ...

  12. You may be pleased to know that you can get more than 280,000 liters of Taq for that money. Actually, about 10x more, assuming the concentration of Taq is 5U/ul. Our MultiTaq DNA Polymerase sells for $0.05/U and for quantities over 100,000U the price is even 20% lower at $0.04/U. $700bln could certainly go a long way in helping people. As a special feature, our enzymes can be shipped and kept at room temperature for up to 1 month.

    US DNA, Inc