It turns out Senator Johnny Isakson stepped into a very well studied, but complicated area of scientific measurement when he attempted to explain a trillion dollars.
Isakson tried to covert a trillion seconds into years, months and days.
It turns out no one can tell you how many days in the future a trillion seconds would put you. And it's not even like, 'we're not sure it's a Thursday or a Tuesday'. We don't even know what month it would be.
I called up Tom O'Brian, chief of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who works on super-precise atomic clocks.
He says there are just too many uncertainties. Among other things tidal forces with the moon are slowing down the earth's rotation. (Many years from now, he says, the moon will sit fixed above one spot on earh.)
You can listen to our conversation:
Or download it here.
"no one can predict exactly where in space the earth will be in one trillion atomic seconds from now, so it is impossible to say exactly what will be the day, hour, minute and second reading on a clock based on a hybrid of earth orientation and atomic clocks one trillion atomic seconds from now. Using certain different timekeeping systems, it would be possible to give an exact answer."