CLOSE

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.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Afternoon Map
What $100 Is Really Worth in Your State
Original image
iStock

How far can you stretch your dollar? Depends on where you're located in the U.S. The Tax Foundation has taken data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to show the real value of $100 in each state. (We've also covered the D.C.-based think tank’s previously analyses, but the numbers changed ever-so-slightly year to year.)

The graphic below compares how much $100 is worth in goods compared to the national average. For instance, in high-price areas like California, New York, and D.C., your $100 is worth significantly less than the U.S. average—in those places, your money has the purchasing power of around $88.18, $86.70, and $85.47, respectively. If you live in Mississippi, meanwhile, your dollars go farther than in any other state. Your $100 is the equivalent of $116.01.

A color-coded map of the U.S. lists the real value of $100 in each state.
Tax Foundation

The data isn't surprising. People move from high-priced regions to cheaper areas of the country all the time. And it’s not just a matter of real estate. In Los Angeles, the average price of a beer is $3.64, but in New York, it’s $5.36, according to GoEuro’s annual Beer Index.

Cities, naturally, tend to be more expensive than rural places, so where you live within a state also has a pretty big impact. It’s much more expensive to live in Manhattan than to live in Syracuse, New York, or to live in Chicago versus downstate Illinois, as the Tax Foundation’s previous work has shown. This difference, however, is generally counter-balanced by the fact that expensive areas typically have higher salaries, too. Minimum wage laws, tax rates, and other factors also play a role.

It’s not just a theoretical exercise. A slight variation in the real value of your dollars can have a significant impact in your standard of living. The Tax Foundation explains:

Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia. In other words, by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after-tax income in Mississippi, you would need after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Lists
11 Things You Should Always Buy at Thrift Stores
Original image
iStock

For some savvy shoppers, thrift stores are the retail gift that keeps on giving. From vintage dresses to DVDs, toys, and home furnishings, there's bound to be something for everyone—but these 11 items are always worth the discount splurge. (Of course, you should always make sure the products are in good condition and free from defects!)

1. WOODEN FURNITURE

Woman restoring a piece of old furniture
iStock

Looking to upgrade your particle board living room set? Thrift stores are a great place to score solid wood furnishings at bargain prices if you’re watching your wallet. Even if you don't end up finding your vintage dream piece, items that are more grandma than retro-glam can still be transformed with paint, varnish, and brand-new fixtures.

2. BOOKS

Old, dusty hardcover books on a shelf
iStock

From classic tomes to buzzy bestsellers, you’ll likely spot books worth reading on sale at your local thrift store, selling for a fraction of their online or bookstore price.

3. BABY CLOTHES

A stack of folded baby clothing sitting on a table next to a brown teddy bear.
iStock

Babies turn into toddlers—and outgrow their tiny outfits— seemingly overnight. We know it can be hard to resist the impulse to splurge on adorable, full-priced baby products, but you’ll save lots of money by buying basic newborn ensembles (which will likely get stained by spilled food and spit-up) at thrift stores—but make sure that the clothes (and any buttons) are in good condition and not damaged, and be mindful of products that may have been recalled.

4. MATERNITY CLOTHES

A pregnant woman sitting in a chair, looking at a sonogram.
iStock

Don’t want to pay top dollar for clothing you’ll only wear for a few months? You’ll likely find next-to-new maternity outfits at thrift stores, donated by mothers who’ve re-embraced their pre-pregnancy wardrobes.

5. CLASSIC VINYL RECORDS

A stack of vinyl records sitting in a row
iStock

Vinyl records are officially hip again. Splurge on new releases if you want, but many classics can be purchased at thrift stores for a fraction of what they'd cost in record stores.

6. WOODEN HANGERS

Wooden hangers on a clothing rack
iStock

Unlike their brittle plastic or malleable wire counterparts, quality wooden hangers last forever. They’re also great for hanging heavier items like winter coats, and they don’t leave creases or dents in sweaters or shirts. That said, wooden hangers can be expensive to buy in bulk—but at a thrift store, you’ll likely find plenty for pennies (and some might even come for free with clothing items).

7. BIKES

A red bicycle on a porch with a
iStock

Serious cyclists should probably invest in a lightweight performance bike, but casual riders wanting a convenient way to cruise around town can likely find a well-made single-speed ride for cheap at their local thrift store.

8. HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

A multi-layered, rainbow-colored tutu
iStock

From poofy '80s prom dresses to ballerina tutus and lab coats, thrift stores are filled with tons of inspiration for creative (and low-cost) Halloween costumes. Not into DIY-ing your own spooky ensemble? Keep your eyes peeled for brand-new costumes purchased from national retailers, or barely-worn ones donated by trick-or-treaters.

9. NOVELTY KITCHEN TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

A bread making machine
iStock

Expensive appliances like bread making machines, pasta makers, and popcorn machines are fun, but they often end up collecting dust in the back of a cabinet. If you really want a certain novelty kitchen item, keep a lookout at your local thrift store to see if you can score a gently-used model before buying new. (Just remember to give whatever you buy a thorough cleaning before you use it!)

10. PICTURE FRAMES

A black-and-white portrait of a family inside a white antique picture frame.
iStock

While shopping at thrift stores, look past the ugly art and focus instead on whether the garish pictures and still life paintings are encased in beautiful frames. Once you're home, remove the art and pop in your own images. (Apartment Therapy has a useful tutorial to walk you through the re-framing and matting process.)

11. GENTLY-USED TOOLS

Gently-used old tools sitting on a wooden table
iStock

Every renter or homeowner should own an emergency toolbox to fix small leaks, hang pictures, and tackle troublesome toilet issues. Thrift stores sometimes sell hardy used tools for cheap, and you may even score products from companies like Craftsman, which have lifetime warranties that guarantee replacements for tools with normal wear-and-tear (be aware, though, that those companies might require a proof-of-purchase).

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios