What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

What if there was a forum for discussing these?

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

cantab314
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:03 pm UTC

What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby cantab314 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:03 pm UTC

Expensive Shoebox

Obviously antimatter would be off the scale, but suffers from the same issue as plutonium.

So how about filling the shoebox with nothing. The purest vacuum you can get. Just lofting it into LEO won't be too pricey, but getting it out into intergalactic space, I imagine that's going to cost a number with a lot of zeroes. Then again, if you try and bring it back outgassing would ruin your vacuum, unless you have a shoebox made of something other than the usual cardboard.

User avatar
bachaddict
Handel Played it Better
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:18 am UTC
Location: Aotearoa

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby bachaddict » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:22 pm UTC

cantab314 wrote:Expensive Shoebox

Obviously antimatter would be off the scale, but suffers from the same issue as plutonium.

So how about filling the shoebox with nothing. The purest vacuum you can get. Just lofting it into LEO won't be too pricey, but getting it out into intergalactic space, I imagine that's going to cost a number with a lot of zeroes. Then again, if you try and bring it back outgassing would ruin your vacuum, unless you have a shoebox made of something other than the usual cardboard.


That's a pretty good thought. The question asks what is the most expensive way to fill a shoebox, without specifying that the filling must be expensive or retain its value. I think filling it with some gas from Jupiter would work, since you have to escape from Jupiter's gravity to get it back.
slinches wrote:Also, the OTC isn't a disease. In fact, it's the cure. As we all know, Time heals all wounds.

Thanks for the molpish wig ggh!
he/him/his

BeagleFury
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:06 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby BeagleFury » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:30 pm UTC

Assuming you could find a few $1m postage stamps at auction, I think this is in the $100 billion to $1 trillion range - $1M/stamp x 10-100 stamps/ML x 1000 ML/L x 10 L?

Myta
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:07 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Myta » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:35 pm UTC

If you want to actually fill it with something, then Cerium136 is a good candidate.
Rough cost estimate is 80$ per mg for an enrichment of 20%. Cerium has a density of about 6.77g/cm^3, so our 15 liter shoebox would be slightly above 8 billion. I would assume that an increased enrichment leads to a drastic increase in price, so I wouldnt be surprised if you can get above 100 billion with it.

User avatar
Trickster
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Trickster » Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:15 am UTC

Is the large number including the Knuth (I just love saying "canoeth"!) notation something specific, or just a general "this is a funny-looking big thing"?

tagno25
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:10 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby tagno25 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:25 am UTC

I am prety sure that that check/cheque is more expensive than the number of plank lengths in the universe. That assumes that any bank would accept that check/cheque.

User avatar
Trickster
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Trickster » Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:44 am UTC

tagno25 wrote:I am prety sure that that check/cheque is more expensive than the number of plank lengths in the universe. That assumes that any bank would accept that check/cheque.

That's actually not as useful an estimate as it seems, given that 10^200 is trillions and trillions of times larger than the number of Planck volumes in the visible universe. That check becomes ridiculous once it hits the seventh digit.

I'm still blanking on Su and it's driving me crazy because I should know that notation. Update: can't find it on Wolfram. Help me guys don't make me ask on SE like an idiot.

User avatar
Alsadius
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 2:14 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Alsadius » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:15 am UTC

I think it might actually be Sn? There's mention of that in the Wikipedia article on the Busy Beaver problem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busy_beaver

AJMansfield
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:32 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby AJMansfield » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:35 am UTC

Although, if you were to fill the shoebox with plutonium, it would not in fact cause a gigantic nuclear explosion, but rather only a small one, just enough to eject the plutonium ingots out and away from each other, ready for the next person to try it.

gladiolas
Posts: 74
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:41 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby gladiolas » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:09 am UTC

I have a question. Where can we find out the budgets for the folks who manufacture transuranic elements? Just one atom would cost thousands of dollars! But would Element 114 necessarily be more expensive to manufacture than Elements 113, 112, 111, etc.? In calculating the cost of one atom, should we include the wages and salaries of everybody who works in the lab? So how much would a shoebox full of Element 114 cost? I know, it's unstable, but still...

Intropy
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:31 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Intropy » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:24 am UTC

How densely can antihydrogen currently be stored? It electrically neutral so it should suffer from the repulsion problem that antiproton storage suffers, but then I'm not sure how it can actually be trapped in the first place either. Assuming we have sufficient density the question is how long we can store it and how quickly we can produce it. I've read that the record for storage duration is 16 minutes. Assuming we can fit the trap into a shoebox, and it takes a minute to move the trap into the shoebox (or to place the shoebox over the trap), the question is becomes "how much does it cost to run CERN to produce antihydrogen for 15 minutes?" I'm guessing that's pretty spendy.

But as bachaddict pointed out the question doesn't technically ask us to retain the value in the box. So how to we measure value then? One obvious way is to do something fantastically expensive to accomplish the filling of the box and take the expense of the operation. I think if we're being fair we have to say that only things that lead directly to filling the box count. So flying to Jupiter to fill it with Jupiter gas is legitimate. Buying all of the Earth's mining production for a year to select a random sample to place into the box is not. But if we're being particularly nefarious maybe we can measure the value of the box as the amount people would be willing to pay for us _not_ to fill the box. Shoebox blackmail or ransom, essentially. It might not be terribly expensive to fill the box with a smallpox culture, but you could probably extort a hefty ransom not to. But I think we can do even better. I propose to fill the box with brainstem. Specifically I propose to fill the box with tiny cross sections of human medulla oblongata. We can take cross sections about 30 nanometers wide, and an adult medulla oblongata is about 2cm x 1.25cm at its narrowest. Our 10 liter box can fit about a billion of these cross sections. What's the combined wealth of the top 1/7 of the world's population?

Mikeski
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:24 am UTC
Location: Minnesota, USA

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:29 am UTC

Along the lines of stamps and other valuable collectibles, are there any really valuable relics or artwork that fit in a shoebox? I imagine a (real and verifiable) Shroud of Turin might be worth a lot, and might fit in a shoebox. Most of the other "priceless" things I can think of off the top of my head are too big (Collector's Edition set of Dead Sea scrolls, Ark of the Covenant, etc.) or too cheap (the Hope Diamond is only about a quarter-billion).

The idea is at least as valid as the manmade element one; the Catholic church may not pay tens of billions for an artifact, but you won't find any scientists ponying up for a shoebox full of ununoctium or antihydrogen, either.

CraXy
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:30 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby CraXy » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:34 am UTC

Wouldn't an SD card filled with RSA keys for all current bitcoins be like 7 billion dollars (and not even fill up the sd card)? and then you could put something else on top of it? I feel like there was a lot of opportunity to mix and match things that are small, and extremely valuable.

Mikeski
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:24 am UTC
Location: Minnesota, USA

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:44 am UTC

Trickster wrote:
tagno25 wrote:I am prety sure that that check/cheque is more expensive than the number of plank lengths in the universe. That assumes that any bank would accept that check/cheque.

That's actually not as useful an estimate as it seems, given that 10^200 is trillions and trillions of times larger than the number of Planck volumes in the visible universe. That check becomes ridiculous once it hits the seventh digit.

Given that, I'm wondering how he wrote out the number longhand in the small box on the che{ck,que}.

And since a bounced check is worth nothing and I doubt anyone's bank account contains (1000^1000^1000*etc) in any currency, I think you have to step back to the trillion-dollar commemorative coin. Or (1000^1000^1000*etc)-dollar commemorative coin, if you like that number better.

Mirkwood
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:10 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Mirkwood » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:05 am UTC

The labor theory of value suggests the most expensive way to fill a shoebox is to spend a lot of time doing so. As things stand, the shoebox is probably appreciating in value quite nicely.

User avatar
DavesNotHere
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:17 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby DavesNotHere » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:29 am UTC

Wouldn't a stack of $500,000,000 bearer bonds be a bit more than $2 billion? Even if they had to be folded a little to fit? But those are probably counterfeit.

How about art? According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings the most expensive painting is Cézanne's "The Card Players" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Card_Players Image which was last sold for more than $250 million in 2011. That's a canvas about 47.5 × 57 cm which if carefully rolled up could easily fit. Given inflation and the increase in value a few of those rolled up together could top the $2 billion mark.

And that could be done in the real world without "What-If" style technology. According to Guiness (an indirect reference at http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2011/10/confirmed-brahim-takioullah-sets-world-record-for-largest-feet/) Robert Wadlow had feet 47 cm long, which would mean a shoe box that could easily contain the canvases without damaging them.

Ekaros
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:37 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Ekaros » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:33 am UTC

How big is a small house?

What is a small house build of? 251kg for such seems awfully little...

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 3522
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:39 am UTC

AJMansfield wrote:Although, if you were to fill the shoebox with plutonium, it would not in fact cause a gigantic nuclear explosion, but rather only a small one, just enough to eject the plutonium ingots out and away from each other, ready for the next person to try it.

Exactly how small is the smallest possible nuclear explosion? Are we talking "oh shit my room is on fire" small or "oh shit my block is a crater" small?
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

Volcano99
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:10 pm UTC
Location: 350 km SW of The Castle

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Volcano99 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:54 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Exactly how small is the smallest possible nuclear explosion? Are we talking "oh shit my room is on fire" small or "oh shit my block is a crater" small?


It's "oh shit we all have radiation poisoning" small, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_core for reference.

User avatar
Eternal Density
Posts: 5393
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:37 am UTC
Contact:

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:10 am UTC

Mirkwood wrote:The labor theory of value suggests the most expensive way to fill a shoebox is to spend a lot of time doing so. As things stand, the shoebox is probably appreciating in value quite nicely.

Perhaps, but it's wrong.

User avatar
bachaddict
Handel Played it Better
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:18 am UTC
Location: Aotearoa

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby bachaddict » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:04 am UTC

CraXy wrote:Wouldn't an SD card filled with RSA keys for all current bitcoins be like 7 billion dollars (and not even fill up the sd card)? and then you could put something else on top of it? I feel like there was a lot of opportunity to mix and match things that are small, and extremely valuable.

I like that idea! Buying all existing cryptocurrency would cost about 9 billion dollars. Of course the price would rise as it was bought, increasing the cost.
I wonder what zero-day exploits are worth by data size.
slinches wrote:Also, the OTC isn't a disease. In fact, it's the cure. As we all know, Time heals all wounds.

Thanks for the molpish wig ggh!
he/him/his

McBee
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:01 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby McBee » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:02 am UTC

If we limit the question a bit, by saying we cannot create new things to put in the box (jupiter gas, cheques, minting new coins...) and can only use existing valuables (RSA keyes for BTC, etc...), then stuffing the box full of credit cards/cash cards belonging to the richest people on the planet might be a good idea...

...until they get recalled, that is.

KarenRei
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:48 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby KarenRei » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:23 am UTC

Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ

tapksa
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:32 pm UTC
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby tapksa » Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:38 pm UTC

Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the number of swords hit max at 2^31 - 1? Or is this some floating-point thing I just never really understood?

Foible
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:44 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Foible » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:16 pm UTC

I'm with bachaddict, I don't think Randal quite answered the question that was asked. He was focused on the value in the box and not the cost of getting it there.

If every human destroyed everything they owned (including themselves) and a tiny sample of each mess was added to the box, it would then cost everything humanity ever created along with everything we'd ever be capable of creating. The total worth of our species used to fill a shoe box.

User avatar
mathmannix
Posts: 1393
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:12 pm UTC
Location: Washington, DC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:19 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ


I'm not saying you're wrong, but here in America there are a lot of people who trust checks (they're not that different from cash; they're physical and you have to mail them or deliver them in person, and they're more secure than cash - in theory, but I'm presenting an opinion here that I don't hold - because only the stated recipient can spend them), but don't trust online banking, or even the use of credit cards. Much less letting a cell phone know your financial information! You can't "hack" a check, but who knows what can happen when the computers and satellites know your information?
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 1675
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby cellocgw » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:03 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote: You can't "hack" a check, but who knows what can happen when the computers and satellites know your information?


Sadly, checks are rather easily hacked. Granted, for a significant fee, you can have your bank refuse a check (at least under some circumstances), but more than once a crook printed his own checks w/ someone else's account number in the mag-ink codes along the bottom. I recall one case where a fella printed "vanilla" deposit slips with his account number on them and stuffed them in a bank's lobby. Everyone who used one of these slips to deposit ended up crediting the crook's account.
https://app.box.com/witthoftresume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

User avatar
Trickster
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Trickster » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:04 pm UTC

Alsadius wrote:I think it might actually be Sn? There's mention of that in the Wikipedia article on the Busy Beaver problem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busy_beaver

Yeah, I was thinking busy beaver, but I haven't seen it written with the script n before... but it must be. It makes too much sense--er, as much as any of that check makes "sense", anyway.

jigawatt
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:35 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby jigawatt » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:10 pm UTC

"And the box itself is probably worth something too."

Obligatory Futurama reference.

Zowayix
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:20 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Zowayix » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:34 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ
What country is this?

User avatar
squall_line
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:36 am UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby squall_line » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:08 pm UTC

DavesNotHere wrote:And that could be done in the real world without "What-If" style technology. According to Guiness (an indirect reference at http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2011/10/confirmed-brahim-takioullah-sets-world-record-for-largest-feet/) Robert Wadlow had feet 47 cm long, which would mean a shoe box that could easily contain the canvases without damaging them.


Except the question explicitly stated that it was a "size 11 shoebox", not just some arbitrary shoebox.

So while your assertion may hold true, inasmuch as there may exist a box for shoes large enough to contain the painting, in the context of this What-If, it doesn't apply.

That, and Mr. Wadlow likely had all of his shoes custom-made, and with shoes that large a cordwainer may not even bother with also creating a custom box in which to place the shoe for transport; it's not going to be on a store shelf, after all. Shoe bags are much more convenient, cheaper to make for such things, and take up less space when used to store shoes in a closet (although they don't stack as nicely).

User avatar
Trickster
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Trickster » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:13 pm UTC

Zowayix wrote:
KarenRei wrote:Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ

What country is this?

Imma guess Kenya. Someone over there is about to wire me a ton of money, yes yep.

ZeusTKP
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:39 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby ZeusTKP » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:15 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ


What can I say.

We use the Imperial system.
Some people still pay $0.25 for a text message.
This: https://arkencounter.com/

murbard
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:33 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby murbard » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:18 pm UTC

Elite racehorse semen vials also put you in the billion dollar range.

rmsgrey
Posts: 2932
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:53 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:The idea is at least as valid as the manmade element one; the Catholic church may not pay tens of billions for an artifact, but you won't find any scientists ponying up for a shoebox full of ununoctium or antihydrogen, either.


I dunno - if you have a shoebox sized stable storage device that let you keep the exotic matter intact long enough to conclude a sale and delivery, I imagine a lot of scientists would be willing to pay for it. And if not, the world's military would definitely be interested in something capable of delivering blocks of antimatter to a target...

KarenRei
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:48 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby KarenRei » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:30 pm UTC

Zowayix wrote:
KarenRei wrote:Haha, checks. I find it amusing how most Americans have no clue how backwards their banking system is that so many people have to use checks. Here you can't even *get* checks. I mean, what a stupid concept, a non-verifiable piece of paper that the user can write for an arbitrary sum? Can you say "just asking for fraud"?

In addition to things like credit / debit cards, everyone here just uses free instant bank transfers. Whether we're talking about your rent, your TV bill, your paying a neighbor to babysit your pet, whatever. Forgot your wallet? Just pull out your smartphone and send the person you need to pay some money. Want to collect money to buy a coworker a gift? Just mention it in an email, people can donate straight to your bank account, you don't even have to walk around to collect it. Such a payment system is easy, no cost, and not ridiculously fraud-prone like checks. All of your bills that are due show up on a single "unpaid bills" page, which you can pay immediately, schedule, ignore, etc (there's also an optionals section with listings from various charities, to encourage charitable giving). And of course, everything has a record. Payments and bills can come with digital documents tied to them - for example, a phone bill may have a breakdown of charges, or a wage statement a breakdown of what you were paid for. You can trivially pull these up at any time in the future online, you don't need to keep any paper. Furthermore, all of this data is automatically reported for tax purposes. Paying my taxes is literally as simple as logging onto a website, clicking through a two-page form that takes about one minute (just confirming the data they've collected from a wide variety of sources), then clicking submit.

Checks? Come on, join the modern world. :Þ
What country is this?


Iceland, but my understanding is that there's lots of other countries in Europe that are like this as well, not just us.

Mikeski
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:24 am UTC
Location: Minnesota, USA

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:56 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Mikeski wrote:The idea is at least as valid as the manmade element one; the Catholic church may not pay tens of billions for an artifact, but you won't find any scientists ponying up for a shoebox full of ununoctium or antihydrogen, either.


I dunno - if you have a shoebox sized stable storage device that let you keep the exotic matter intact long enough to conclude a sale and delivery, I imagine a lot of scientists would be willing to pay for it. And if not, the world's military would definitely be interested in something capable of delivering blocks of antimatter to a target...

Now you're filling the box with technology that doesn't exist (yet), so you might as well fill it with the cures for cancer or aging or AIDS, or a warp drive or a time machine, or some other super-sci-fi gear instead. Or the formulas/designs for hundreds of such things, stored on microSD cards.

Even if you are personally nonreligious (or of another religion), there are a few billion religious people who would find an item owned by their deity/chief prophet/etc. to be of immense value.

User avatar
keithl
Posts: 597
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:46 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby keithl » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:00 pm UTC

I'm surprised DNA has not been mentioned yet - it is the densest store of information in current use, and information in a form that can make protein machines that make stuff. DNA for viral vectors that can cure all diseases, DNA for bacteria that poop transistors, DNA for photosynthetic golems that turn landfills into starships. Probably all that DNA would fit in a cubic millimeter. We could devote another cubic millimeter to the DNA for the computation system that figures out what to fill the rest of the shoebox with, along with DNA to embed the user manuals in our primitive brains.

Since it would take vast resources to design all this superduper DNA, the expense of the DNA would be incomprehensibly huge, but "the most expensive way to fill" the box with this DNA would be to do the research and development very, very inefficiently. I can suggest a few of my former co-workers and managers to staff this team. We will need some very smart physicists to develop access to the myriad of alternate universes necessary to provide enough resources for this team to waste in their development process.

rjsteg
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:41 pm UTC

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby rjsteg » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:04 pm UTC

I'm wondering if that is Randall's actual signature on that check?

I'm off to my bank now to find out.

User avatar
moody7277
Posts: 503
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:06 pm UTC
Location: Extreme south Texas

Re: What-If 0108: "Expensive Shoebox"

Postby moody7277 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:13 pm UTC

I'm only certain of how to calculate the number of digits of the first third of that monstrosity in the check. It's something like 10^4500 digits, plus whatever the Knuth and that third bit add.
The story of my life in xkcdmafia:

Tigerlion wrote:Well, I imagine as the game progresses, various people will be getting moody.


Return to “What If?”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests