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Old 04-27-2016, 10:41 PM
Rotola Rotola is offline
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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!
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:43 PM
running coach running coach is online now
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Reported for forum change.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:50 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
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F-35?
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:53 PM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is online now
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International Space Station

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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]

Last edited by snfaulkner; 04-27-2016 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:56 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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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.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:58 PM
Rotola Rotola is offline
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ISS

Yeah but ... The international space station is not "in the world."
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:00 PM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is online now
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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.
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:26 PM
Rotola Rotola is offline
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True. The ISS would probably win if it counted. How about an aircraft carrier?
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:34 PM
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Moved to GQ.
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:43 PM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is online now
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According to the List of most expensive buildings in the world, the Hajj Mosque costed upwards of $100B...
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:46 PM
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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)
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:52 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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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?

Last edited by Shagnasty; 04-27-2016 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:52 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
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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).
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:02 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:08 AM
Rotola Rotola is offline
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
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?
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:16 AM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:20 AM
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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?
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:23 AM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:32 AM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is online now
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Originally Posted by davidm View Post
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]
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:47 AM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is online now
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:50 AM
Isilder Isilder is offline
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Originally Posted by Rotola View Post
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

Last edited by Isilder; 04-28-2016 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:39 AM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 04:01 AM
Shakester Shakester is online now
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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?
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Old 04-28-2016, 04:29 AM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:03 AM
Telperion Telperion is offline
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:41 AM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:45 AM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 10:08 AM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Postage stamps?

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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.)
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:24 AM
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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.

Last edited by bump; 04-28-2016 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:26 AM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:46 AM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:10 PM
Beauregard Porkypine Beauregard Porkypine is offline
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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
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Old 04-28-2016, 03:13 PM
Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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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...
  #34  
Old 04-28-2016, 05:06 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:23 PM
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Tell that to Elon Musk.
His still hidden Iron Man suit might qualify.
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:59 PM
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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.
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Old 04-28-2016, 08:25 PM
Cabin_Fever Cabin_Fever is offline
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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
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:16 AM
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The BBC had an article on this today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36160368
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:13 AM
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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 View Post
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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:51 AM
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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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 10:51 AM
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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).
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:03 AM
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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"}

Last edited by watchwolf49; 04-29-2016 at 11:05 AM. Reason: The return on investment was good, so there's that ...
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:08 AM
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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}
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:23 PM
DtypeJag DtypeJag is offline
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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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:58 PM
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You forgot about printer ink.
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Old 04-29-2016, 03:16 PM
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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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:26 PM
Blue Blistering Barnacle Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
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Originally Posted by Tired and Cranky View Post
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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:04 PM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
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.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:43 PM
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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.

Last edited by bibliophage; 04-29-2016 at 06:44 PM.
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