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-   -   Expensive stuff ... I mean really, REALLY expensive! (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=791537)

Rotola 04-27-2016 09:41 PM

Expensive stuff ... I mean really, REALLY expensive!
 
What is the single most expensive man made object in the world? The space shuttle? The new World Trade Center? I don't believe I'm thinking BIG enough. Help!

running coach 04-27-2016 09:43 PM

Reported for forum change.

Ethilrist 04-27-2016 09:50 PM

F-35?

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 09:53 PM

International Space Station

Quote:

Cost

The ISS is arguably the most expensive single item ever constructed.[289] In 2010 the cost was expected to be $150 billion. This includes NASA's budget of $58.7 billion (inflation-unadjusted) for the station from 1985 to 2015 ($72.4 billion in 2010 dollars), Russia's $12 billion, Europe's $5 billion, Japan's $5 billion, Canada's $2 billion, and the cost of 36 shuttle flights to build the station; estimated at $1.4 billion each, or $50.4 billion in total. Assuming 20,000 person-days of use from 2000 to 2015 by two- to six-person crews, each person-day would cost $7.5 million, less than half the inflation-adjusted $19.6 million ($5.5 million before inflation) per person-day of Skylab.[290]

davidm 04-27-2016 09:56 PM

Something like the Golden Gate Bridge or Hoover Dam?

Maybe the Great Pyramid of Giza? I'm not sure how you'd put a price on it.

Rotola 04-27-2016 09:58 PM

ISS
 
Yeah but ... The international space station is not "in the world."

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 10:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rotola (Post 19290458)
Yeah but ... The international space station is not "in the world."

Fair enough, but the space shuttle was mentioned in the OP, so I thought ISS would be fair game.

Rotola 04-27-2016 10:26 PM

True. The ISS would probably win if it counted. How about an aircraft carrier?

Miller 04-27-2016 10:34 PM

Moved to GQ.

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 10:43 PM

According to the List of most expensive buildings in the world, the Hajj Mosque costed upwards of $100B...

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 10:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rotola (Post 19290504)
True. The ISS would probably win if it counted. How about an aircraft carrier?

The Gerald Ford Aircraft carrier seems to cost:

Program cost: $36.30 billion[1](FY15)
Unit cost: $10.44B[1](FY15)

Shagnasty 04-27-2016 10:52 PM

Some items hit the 'priceless' level in the real sense so nobody can buy them. The Mona Lisa, Hope diamond and the Great Pyramid are among them so I am not sure if there is a single answer. Sure, France or Egypt may relent if something horrible happens and they need some indeterminate amount of money to keep their country going but some things are not currently for sale even at ISS level prices.

Do you want to include cost for research and development? How many single items can be included if they go together as a package or idea? What about something that exists and can be made to work again but not easily like a Saturn V rocket that can take people to the moon again? What about property like Yellowstone National park that is bigger than some countries?

Ethilrist 04-27-2016 10:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ethilrist (Post 19290442)
F-35?

Never mind; I didn't realize how many of them we've built (it's over 100, so the $1.5 trillion current project cost is a measly $10 billion or so apiece at this point).

davidm 04-27-2016 11:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shagnasty (Post 19290535)
Some items hit the 'priceless' level in the real sense so nobody can buy them. The Mona Lisa, Hope diamond and the Great Pyramid are among them so I am not sure if there is a single answer. Sure, France or Egypt may relent if something horrible happens and they need some indeterminate amount of money to keep their country going but some things are not currently for sale even at ISS level prices.

Do you want to include cost for research and development? How many single items can be included if they go together as a package or idea? What about something that exists and can be made to work again but not easily like a Saturn V rocket that can take people to the moon again? What about property like Yellowstone National park that is bigger than some countries?

Yellowstone is not man made.

Rotola 04-27-2016 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shagnasty (Post 19290535)
Some items hit the 'priceless' level in the real sense so nobody can buy them. The Mona Lisa, Hope diamond and the Great Pyramid are among them so I am not sure if there is a single answer. Sure, France or Egypt may relent if something horrible happens and they need some indeterminate amount of money to keep their country going but some things are not currently for sale even at ISS level prices.

What about property like Yellowstone National park that is bigger than some countries?

Yellowstone isn't man made. I guess I wasn't thinking research and development but merely the cost of the object. And in $2016. I wonder how much the Great Wall of China would cost now?

Little Nemo 04-27-2016 11:16 PM

How about the first atomic bombs? I was just reading a site that said the Manhattan Project cost the equivalent of thirty billion dollars if you adjusted for inflation. We got two bombs out of it, so call it fifteen billion dollars for each. Not quite the International Space Station but that's a lot of money for something you only use once.

davidm 04-27-2016 11:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rotola (Post 19290557)
Yellowstone isn't man made. I guess I wasn't thinking research and development but merely the cost of the object. And in $2016. I wonder how much the Great Wall of China would cost now?

If the Great Wall is considered a single object then why not the US highway system?

beowulff 04-27-2016 11:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 19290578)
How about the first atomic bombs? I was just reading a site that said the Manhattan Project cost the equivalent of thirty billion dollars if you adjusted for inflation. We got two bombs out of it, so call it fifteen billion dollars for each. Not quite the International Space Station but that's a lot of money for something you only use once.

The infrastructure built during the Manhattan project was used to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of bombs.

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 11:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidm (Post 19290587)
If the Great Wall is considered a single object then why not the US highway system?


Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways


Quote:

The initial cost estimate for the system was $25 billion over 12 years; it ended up costing $114 billion (adjusted for inflation, $425 billion in 2006 dollars[5]) and took 35 years.[25]

snfaulkner 04-27-2016 11:47 PM

If you want to count "The U.S. Military" as one man-made thing:

For the 2011 fiscal year, the president's base budget for the Department of Defense and spending on "overseas contingency operations" combine to bring the sum to $664.84 billion.[2][3]

That was just for one year of Militarying.

Isilder 04-28-2016 12:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rotola (Post 19290422)
What is the single most expensive man made object in the world? The space shuttle? The new World Trade Center? I don't believe I'm thinking BIG enough. Help!


How about the USA road network ?

When you consider that its a network and not a bunch of seperate items.
You would't call a brick house to not be a single object, so why would a road network be broken into constituent parts ?

The federal road network shows that its even designed as a single network, to some extent, its just just a bunch of state highways that happen to cross paths.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._R...:US_20_map.png

UDS 04-28-2016 01:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Isilder (Post 19290681)
How about the USA road network ?

When you consider that its a network and not a bunch of seperate items.
You would't call a brick house to not be a single object, so why would a road network be broken into constituent parts ?

The federal road network shows that its even designed as a single network, to some extent, its just just a bunch of state highways that happen to cross paths.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._R...:US_20_map.png

Well, why limit it to the USA road network? It's not as though all US roads stop at the borders.

True, once we look at a transnational road network we have something constructed by more than one party, but nothing in the OP limits the query to things constructed by just one party. In any event, different components of the US road network will have been constructed by different parties - different local, state and federal governmental agencies, and no doubt a few more entities besides.

So if we are looking at road networks, the likely answer is going to be the largest connected road network on the planet which, I'm guessing, is the Eurasian-African road network.

Shakester 04-28-2016 03:01 AM

An interesting side question occurs to me: What's the most expensive thing a private individual can actually buy? I mean, aircraft carriers and space rockets aren't (to the best of my knowledge) available to anyone but governments. What could I buy if money was really no object?

UDS 04-28-2016 03:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shakester (Post 19290766)
An interesting side question occurs to me: What's the most expensive thing a private individual can actually buy? I mean, aircraft carriers and space rockets aren't (to the best of my knowledge) available to anyone but governments. What could I buy if money was really no object?

The only limit is the amount of money that a private individual has to spend.

Obligatory Blackadder moment:

Blackadder: Baldrick, I've always been meaning to ask: Do you have any ambitions in life apart from the acquisition of turnips?

Baldrick: Er, no.

Blackadder: So what would you do if I gave you a thousand pounds?

Baldrick: I'd get a little turnip of my own.

Blackadder: So what would you do if I gave you a million pounds?

Baldrick: Oh, that's different. I'd get a great big turnip in the country.

[Later, after Baldrick has been given 400,000 and Blackadder is trying to get it from him.]

Baldrick: I spent it.

Blackadder: You spent it? What could you possibly spend 400,000 on?

[Blackadder notices the massive turnip on the table]

Blackadder: Oh, no... oh God, don't tell me.

Baldrick: My dream turnip.

Blackadder: Baldrick, how did you manage to find a turnip that cost 400,000?

Baldrick: Well, I had to haggle.

Telperion 04-28-2016 04:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shakester (Post 19290766)
An interesting side question occurs to me: What's the most expensive thing a private individual can actually buy? I mean, aircraft carriers and space rockets aren't (to the best of my knowledge) available to anyone but governments. What could I buy if money was really no object?

I would imagine something like a soccer team. Real Madrid is valued at $3.26 billion.

Tired and Cranky 04-28-2016 08:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Telperion (Post 19290796)
I would imagine something like a soccer team. Real Madrid is valued at $3.26 billion.

Apple Inc. is valued at $537 billion today but if you wanted to buy it, it would cost you a lot more. I'm not sure that's a single thing to the OP though.

Tired and Cranky 04-28-2016 08:45 AM

Trying to find a single expensive thing, I looked at the cost of the Large Hadron Collider. Only $9 billion -- for all the science we get out of it, it's a bargain compared to an aircraft carrier.

BrotherCadfael 04-28-2016 09:08 AM

Postage stamps?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Travis McGee
"It is the most valuable stuff, Mr. McGee, on a size and weight basis, the world has ever known. Some years ago Ray Weil and his brother Roger, bought a Hawaiian stamp at auction for forty thousand. Very thin paper. Some newspaper guy in New Orleans, I think it was, figured out that it came to one and a half billion dollars a pound."

The novel this quote came from (The Scarlett Ruse) was published in 1972. Prices have surely risen since then.

(Another candidate would be the trans-uranic elements, with billions spent to produce a few molecules.)

bump 04-28-2016 10:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 19290578)
How about the first atomic bombs? I was just reading a site that said the Manhattan Project cost the equivalent of thirty billion dollars if you adjusted for inflation. We got two bombs out of it, so call it fifteen billion dollars for each. Not quite the International Space Station but that's a lot of money for something you only use once.

Even there, I suspect that you could legitimately argue that you could spread a lot of the costs of the bedrock scientific research into fission across all subsequent nuclear weapon programs AND any government funded research into civilian nuclear applications.

That's the catch here; some of these programs are huge, but that's not really the cost of the items themselves.

I suspect that absent the actual scientific development costs (i.e. figuring out how and if a fission bomb was feasible), the real costs to making the bombs themselves were in the uranium separation for Little Boy, and the plutonium generation for Fat Man/Trinity.

Velocity 04-28-2016 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shakester (Post 19290766)
An interesting side question occurs to me: What's the most expensive thing a private individual can actually buy? I mean, aircraft carriers and space rockets aren't (to the best of my knowledge) available to anyone but governments. What could I buy if money was really no object?

This is a bit fuzzy to define; you could technically buy a "$10 billion mansion," or a billion acres of land, etc.

My guess would be this.

Chronos 04-28-2016 10:46 AM

Quote:

Quoth Shakester:

An interesting side question occurs to me: What's the most expensive thing a private individual can actually buy? I mean, aircraft carriers and space rockets aren't (to the best of my knowledge) available to anyone but governments.
Tell that to Elon Musk.

Beauregard Porkypine 04-28-2016 01:10 PM

As a single "thing" or man-made object, the Three Gorges Dam in China comes in at $27.6 Billion US Dollars.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam

Marvin the Martian 04-28-2016 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rotola (Post 19290557)
Yellowstone isn't man made. I guess I wasn't thinking research and development but merely the cost of the object. And in $2016. I wonder how much the Great Wall of China would cost now?

Well, a while back John Oliver made an estimate that the Trump Wall would cost ~$25 billion...

Whack-a-Mole 04-28-2016 04:06 PM

Antimatter
 
Nothing else come close really on a pound-for-pound basis.

A gram of antimatter costs around $25 billion to produce. Of course, there is nowhere near a gram of antimatter on earth so in real terms it costs less than other things listed here but in terms price/gram (or whatever weight measurement you want to use) nothing else comes remotely close. Not even the ISS.

drachillix 04-28-2016 04:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 19291446)
Tell that to Elon Musk.

His still hidden Iron Man suit might qualify.

DrCube 04-28-2016 04:59 PM

The electric power grid is basically a single huge, world-spanning machine. (Even if we only count synchronous interconnections as a single "machine", one of them is the size of Europe.) I don't know what you would say it "cost", but I expect it would probably take top honors if we could find out.

Cabin_Fever 04-28-2016 07:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrCube (Post 19292519)
The electric power grid is basically a single huge, world-spanning machine. (Even if we only count synchronous interconnections as a single "machine", one of them is the size of Europe.) I don't know what you would say it "cost", but I expect it would probably take top honors if we could find out.

Good point

Dervorin 04-29-2016 05:16 AM

The BBC had an article on this today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36160368

Lumpy 04-29-2016 07:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ethilrist (Post 19290536)
Never mind; I didn't realize how many of them we've built (it's over 100, so the $1.5 trillion current project cost is a measly $10 billion or so apiece at this point).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 19290578)
How about the first atomic bombs? I was just reading a site that said the Manhattan Project cost the equivalent of thirty billion dollars if you adjusted for inflation. We got two bombs out of it, so call it fifteen billion dollars for each. Not quite the International Space Station but that's a lot of money for something you only use once.

This gets into the whole subject of marginal cost: how much it costs to make one more of something after you've already covered the cost of being able to produce any at all. Typically, investment-heavy items benefit from economy of scale.

Flyer 04-29-2016 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole (Post 19292408)
Nothing else come close really on a pound-for-pound basis.

A gram of antimatter costs around $25 billion to produce. Of course, there is nowhere near a gram of antimatter on earth so in real terms it costs less than other things listed here but in terms price/gram (or whatever weight measurement you want to use) nothing else comes remotely close. Not even the ISS.

. . . now kids, if you ever have a gram of antimatter, don't light it while you're holding it. It will blow your fingers clear off.

bump 04-29-2016 09:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lumpy (Post 19293693)
This gets into the whole subject of marginal cost: how much it costs to make one more of something after you've already covered the cost of being able to produce any at all. Typically, investment-heavy items benefit from economy of scale.

That's essentially what I was getting at; the Manhattan Project didn't just yield Trinity, Fat Man and Little Boy; it yielded the entire uranium enrichment and plutonium generation and separation infrastructures and capability, as well as the industrial capacity to actually fabricate uranium and plutonium items, as well as a WHOLE LOT of basic scientific research into what is now basic atomic physics about the nature of atomic fission and radioactivity. So I'd argue that those costs are only partially applicable to Fat Man and Little Boy.

But even if you do count all that strictly as Manhattan Project costs, it wasn't spread across only the 2 combat bombs and one test bomb (Trinity). The US military used the Fat Man design for another 5 years, until 1950, and built a grand total of 124 weapons of that type (Trinity, Fat Man, the 2 used in Operation Crossroads (Able and Baker) and 120 stockpiled ones). So in total, that cost would be split by 125 (124 Fat Man bombs and 1 Little Boy bomb).

watchwolf49 04-29-2016 10:03 AM

WWII cost the United States $4.1 trillion in 2011 dollars, and just for military operations, add the Marshall Plan in and the costs to all the other countries involved ... lives lost ... cultures destroyed ... and there's still unexploded bombs lurking, waiting to kill more peoples. {"Costs of Major U.S. Wars"}

watchwolf49 04-29-2016 10:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bump (Post 19294050)
That's essentially what I was getting at; the Manhattan Project didn't just yield Trinity, Fat Man and Little Boy; it yielded the entire uranium enrichment and plutonium generation and separation infrastructures and capability, as well as the industrial capacity to actually fabricate uranium and plutonium items, as well as a WHOLE LOT of basic scientific research into what is now basic atomic physics about the nature of atomic fission and radioactivity. So I'd argue that those costs are only partially applicable to Fat Man and Little Boy.

But even if you do count all that strictly as Manhattan Project costs, it wasn't spread across only the 2 combat bombs and one test bomb (Trinity). The US military used the Fat Man design for another 5 years, until 1950, and built a grand total of 124 weapons of that type (Trinity, Fat Man, the 2 used in Operation Crossroads (Able and Baker) and 120 stockpiled ones). So in total, that cost would be split by 125 (124 Fat Man bombs and 1 Little Boy bomb).

Don't forget we still have to clean up the mess we made, $112 billion estimated just for Hanford {Cite}

DtypeJag 04-29-2016 12:23 PM

The prescription eyedrops for glaucoma my mom used to take had .00004 gm of active ingredient in a 1ml solution of something inert. The retail price was $158 and medicare paid $113 of this. At the retail price this works out to almost $4,000,000 /gm or $3million for medicare.

Surely this must be a candidate for the most expensive chemical on the planet. Isn't this about the cost of Plutonium?

I'm not sure if the .00004 was gm or % but I'm willing to give the manufacturer the benefit of the doubt otherwise multiply by 100.

chacoguy 04-29-2016 01:58 PM

You forgot about printer ink.

kayaker 04-29-2016 02:16 PM

Years ago I was the high bidder on a leather bound bible signed by Jesus Christ on the frontispiece. eBay ended the auction, on the grounds of suspected chicanery. If they hadn't, my $25 bid would have gotten me a potentially priceless artifact.

Blue Blistering Barnacle 04-29-2016 04:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tired and Cranky (Post 19291084)
Trying to find a single expensive thing, I looked at the cost of the Large Hadron Collider. Only $9 billion -- for all the science we get out of it, it's a bargain compared to an aircraft carrier.

Sure, but it's useless if you're trying to go from point A to point B.

lazybratsche 04-29-2016 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DtypeJag (Post 19294464)
The prescription eyedrops for glaucoma my mom used to take had .00004 gm of active ingredient in a 1ml solution of something inert. The retail price was $158 and medicare paid $113 of this. At the retail price this works out to almost $4,000,000 /gm or $3million for medicare.

Surely this must be a candidate for the most expensive chemical on the planet. Isn't this about the cost of Plutonium?

I'm not sure if the .00004 was gm or % but I'm willing to give the manufacturer the benefit of the doubt otherwise multiply by 100.

A few hundred bucks for a few micrograms? That's pretty normal for a lot of the antibodies, enzymes, and other proteins I use in the lab.

For kicks, I just looked up one of the more expensive cancer biologics. I didn't do a very thorough search, but I did find a price of $2700 per 400 mg vial. To be honest that's a lot cheaper than I expected, working out to be only $6750 per gram (I wish I could buy monoclonal antibodies that cheap...) Another controversially expensive drug, Sovaldi, "only" costs $1000 per 400 mg pill, or $2500 per gram.

Broomstick 04-29-2016 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole (Post 19292408)
Nothing else come close really on a pound-for-pound basis.

A gram of antimatter costs around $25 billion to produce. Of course, there is nowhere near a gram of antimatter on earth so in real terms it costs less than other things listed here but in terms price/gram (or whatever weight measurement you want to use) nothing else comes remotely close. Not even the ISS.

That price is for positrons. That's a bunch of sub-atomic particles (the anti-equivalent of electrons).

Anti-hydrogen, an actual anti-element, is estimated to be $62 trillion per gram to make. Estimated because we've never had more than a few atoms of it at any one time, nowhere near a gram.

bibliophage 04-29-2016 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dervorin (Post 19293579)
The BBC had an article on this today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36160368

I came in to post this. The winner among earthbound stuff seems to be the Gorgon Gas Project in Australia, projected to cost 54 billion USD by the time it's completed. It may not count as an "object" for the purposes of this thread though.

They also mention the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in England with a construction cost of 26 billion USD and the Hong Kong International Airport with a construction cost of 29 billion USD in today's money.


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