$100 million +
- Midsize commercial airplane — $120m ^
- Big budget video game — $150m ^
- F-22 Raptor jet — $157m ^
- iPhone R&D (2007) — $185m ^
- Titanic (1912) — $190m ^
- Big budget movie — $250m ^
- SpaceX Falcon 9 v1 R&D — $350m ^
- Empire State Building (1931) — $400m ^
- Modern cruise ship — $750m ^
- Hoover Dam (1936) — $863m ^
$1 billion +
- Modern sports stadium — $1.3b ^
- Modern skyscraper — $1.5b ^
- Space Shuttle launch — $1.5b ^
- Erie Canal (1825) — $4b ^
- Human Genome Project (2003) — $5b ^
- Panama Canal (1912) — $9b ^
- Hubble Space Telescope (1990) — $9b ^
$10 billion +
- Global Positioning System (1989) — $10b ^
- Large Hadron Collider (2009) — $13b ^
- Great Pyramid of Giza (~2500 BCE) — $20b ^
- Three Gorges Dam (2009) — $25b ^
- Transcontinental railroad (1863) — $30b ^
- Manhattan Project (1945) — $30b ^
- F-22 Raptor development (1997) — $42b ^
- Great Wall of China (220 BCE) — $50b ^
- SR-71 Blackbird development (1964) — $90b ^
$100 billion +
- International Space Station — $150b ^
- Apollo program (1969) — $200b ^
- U.S. Interstate Highway System (~1980) — $500b ^
Many of these numbers are rough estimates. Figures adjusted for inflation after 1900 that weren’t already. Any figure before 1900 was adjusted via per capita GDP to more accurately reflect the scale of the undertaking.
If it were possible, the best metric to compare the scale of projects would be something like “Man-years + Value of Raw Materials (possibly in ounces of gold)“. This is especially true for projects like the Great Pyramid, the Suez Canal, the Great Wall of China, or the Manhattan Project which used mostly unpaid or low-paid labor.
Related: The Tallest Skyscrapers in the World, Pyramids vs. Skyscrapers
Based off a previous #tweetstorm.
See: So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class . . . by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Some relevant quotes:
Christian’s aim was not to offer discrete accounts of each period so much as to integrate them all into vertiginous conceptual narratives, sweeping through billions of years in the span of a single semester. . . . In the worldview of “Big History,” a discussion about the formation of stars cannot help including Einstein and the hydrogen bomb; a lesson on the rise of life will find its way to Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.
“Most kids experience school as one damn course after another; there’s nothing to build connections between the courses that they take,” says Bob Bain.
“This course is a fundamental shift in how you deliver something. But there’s so many factors in American education that work against it.”
If any of this interests you, check out David Christian’s Big History Project and watch his TED talk The history of our world in 18 minutes.
Christian’s view of teaching is what I call a mental models approach that weaves narratives from all disciplines. It’s not only more interesting, but a more accurate portrayal.
Unfortunately, it is hard to introduce this into current curriculum. There are bureaucracies and “kingdoms” to protect and people set in their ways.
The easiest way is to build a new eduction system from ground up: rethink everything including:
- The concept of “classes” and the compartmentalization of subjects (aka the mental model approach).
- Scheduling — length and timing of the school day, length of the school year, a rigid “period” schedule vs. a more free-flowing approach…
- Grade levels — why should kids born within a defined 365 day period be taught together? How could this be adjusted?
- Range of subjects — what else should be taught other than the typical math, science, language, history?
- Self-motivation policy — is homework useful? What should students do outside of class? How much should the school be involved in this?
- . . .
There are tools that aid this kind of learning, both in and out of class. Big History is one. I believe something like Atlastory, a project I started, is another.
The New York Times, 11/4/1907
In October of 1907, financial markets in the United States came to a complete halt. Credit markets froze, major banks collapsed, and the stock market plunged. Heads of industry, like J. P. Morgan, were forced to inject massive amounts of capital to prevent a complete collapse.
The circumstances of the Panic of 1907 are very similar to our current crisis. In both, the economy had experienced huge growth over the preceding decade. Banks lowered lending standards, which led people to take on more and more debt. When bank assets began to decline, depositors panicked, and there was a run on the financial system.
But for the rest of this post, I’d like to focus on the period that follows a financial crisis—not on the crisis itself. (Keep in mind that although I speak in terms of American progress, my point applies to any country around the world.)
* * *
The period following 1907 was monumental in American history. Continue reading “1908 – 2008 – 2108” →