Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Paint the light side of the moon red

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough paint to paint the light side of the moon red.  

The moon has a surface area of 14,645,750 square miles.  It is in synchronous rotation with the Earth, meaning that the same half of it faces the Earth at all times.  Since a square mile is 27,878,400 square feet (that's 5280 feet squared)  the light side of the moon is 204 trillion square feet.  

LTX Bright Red Enamel paint, by Valspar, covers 400 square feet per gallon.  So we would need 510 billion gallons of it to cover the light side of the moon.  At the current price of $5.49 per gallon, we could paint the light side of the moon for $2.80 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War. 

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from jahdakinebrah.


Bob Munck said...

Near side of the moon, not the light side. Any particular part of the moon is only light for 14 days out of every 28 as the moon rotates relative to the sun.

breakerslion said...

I prefer Pink Floyd's explanation. "There is no dark side. It's all dark."

I like some of your other examples, but this one does not take into account the cost of accelerating that prodigious mass of paint off the planet, and decelerating it for a soft landing on the moon. I suppose you could distribute it by blowing up a carefully calculated pattern of cans at some altitude before they crashed into the moon, but you would have to know the effects of vacuum on that mixture. The liquid would boil off leaving the pigment to fall as dust... Aw crap, I think too much!

Neil Sinhababu said...

I thought I'd dealt with that issue but the post is actually inconsistent. I get it right at the top (bought enough paint to paint) but I get it wrong at the bottom (we could paint). Oh well.