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It Would Cost £6.2 Octillion to Operate the Death Star Each Day

The Death Star from the Star Wars franchise is a technological wonder that could only exist in fiction. According to one estimate, the space station/galactic super-weapon would have taken 800,000 years and cost $852 quadrillion to construct. To commemorate the upcoming release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (out in American theaters on December 16), Ovo Energy, an energy supply company based in Bristol, England, wanted to figure how much it would cost the Galactic Empire to run the Death Star each day.

Alexander Barnett, a math professor at Dartmouth University, and Stephen Skolnick, editor of Physics Central, crunched the numbers to find out the ship's daily cost of use. After accounting for factors including the number of people aboard (2,068,937), the approximate cost of their meals (£237,531.31), and the energy needed to power the ship, Barnett and Skolnick arrived at a final answer: more than £6 octillion. Learn how they came up with this staggering sum by checking out the infographic below.

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Switzerland Flushes $1.8 Million in Gold Down the Sewer Every Year
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Switzerland has some pretty valuable sewer systems. As Bloomberg reports, scientists have discovered around $1.8 million worth of gold in the country's wastewater, along with $1.7 million worth of silver.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology examined sewage sludge and effluents, or discharged liquid waste, from 64 water treatment plants and major Swiss rivers. They did this to assess the concentrations of various trace elements, which are "increasingly widely used in the high-tech and medical sectors," the scientists explained in a press statement. "While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater."

The study, which was recently published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that around 94 pounds of gold makes its way through Switzerland's sewage system each year, along with 6600 pounds of silver and high concentrations of rare metals like gadolinium and niobium. For the most part, these metals don't harm the environment, researchers say.

With gold and silver quite literally flowing through their sewers, is there any way that Switzerland could turn their wastewater into wealth? Scientists are skeptical: "The recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted," the release explains.

However, in the southern canton of Ticino, which is home to several gold refineries, the "concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile," they conclude.

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, watches, and mountains, but it's also home to major gold refineries. On average, around 70 percent of the world's gold passes through Switzerland every year—and judging from the looks of it, much of it goes down the drain. As for the sewer silver, it's a byproduct of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which is a cornerstone of Switzerland's economy.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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14 Things You Owned in the '70s That are Worth a Fortune Now
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From old toys and housewares to books and records, these pieces of '70s memorabilia have aged (and increased in value) like fine wine.

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