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31 March 2013

Hell Money: Cosmic Sum

I couldn't help but always used to think: "wouldn't the underworld suffer hyper-inflation i.e. buying a small piece of plain mantou might cost 1000000000 "hell currency" (lets name the currency HC for simplicity) when everyone give their dead so huge a sum, every time?" The thought is always synonymous with seeing the amount of paper-stuffs we burn as offerings to the deceased each year. 

To figure that out, lets indulge ourselves into the concept of a world which exist beyond our sensory realm. A place the decease will drift among themselves, living their lives with materialistic viewpoints which mirror our lives.

So let's start to picture this materialistic life after death: Initially, life might seems to be perfect, given the most filial child (or relatives) will burn incense, HCs, luxurious materials and offer fresh food every year during Ching Ming, or let us consider the things they might additionally offer in Chinese New Year. We will realize, each human year, they will have two cycle of "income" in which food and immense wealth will be supplied. 

But as we well know in our realm, food is a primary need. Which means, it would be ranked the most important matter to keep a person alive other than oxygen and water. (Ironically, I rarely see people offer  drinking water) They would have shelters and possibly new mode of transport every year, but food only comes twice a human year, so here's a logic block. 

Unless they eat twice a year, you may argue that the perception of time could be different between realms. So lets say, we condense their time such that each year in our world is equivalent to their day such that they can enjoy at least, a meal per "underworld-day".

Now, think about this. At some point of after their death, we will stop offering food and goods - not because the most filial son failed to adhere to his self-promise (or culture if you wish), but we as mortals will come to pass eventually. So if the concept of "delivering" them goods while we are alive to hold true, we better give them more than they could use such that when someday, the person who provide the offering passes-away, the beneficiary spirit will have sufficient supplies to go on. 

As mentioned, other than perishable food, we tend to provide a form of legal tender (in the form of hell-notes), which supposedly enables them to barter if they need to purchase, perhaps food, from other spirit who were wandering in the same realm which somehow they have enough supplies to sell.

To see such economy possibly lead to hyperinflation due to rapid increase in demand for food for coming years compared to the relatively large sum of money they receive, we have to make a few (crude but reasonable) assumptions:
1. An average human lifetime is 75 years old.
2. The eldest child is born at their parents age of 20. 
3. Once the parent pass away, the children will burn offerings until their own death.

Assumption 1. and 2. implies that the children's parents will pass away when the child is 55, and starting from age 55, he/she will have 20 years to provide the offerings until their death. 

To calculate the sum of things he/she can offer to the spirit, we need another few assumptions:
1. Each year they are two events which the child will provide the offerings. (CNY and Ching Ming)
2. Each event, the children will burn offering materials worth 10 million billion HCs, equivalent to Chinese 一億億.

In the course of 20 years, the child would have provided the deceased (4e17) HCs. In numbers, that is 400,000,000,000,000,000 HRs to last for.. um.. eternity

So lets say for the first 20 underworld-days (remember one day of theirs is one year for us) they have no worries about their food. (rather a quick family reunion to the dead, isn't it?) And after that, they would have 400 million billion for each wandering soul to spend for as long as time lasts.. how much can they allocate themselves (average) for use each day?

Now the last paragraph seems to be a paradox. How can you divide the amount of money, with infinite amount of days? It is mathematically meaningless to divide a number by infinity. Here we need to bring up a certain aspects in cosmology to wrap this study up. 

In 1924, a Soviet mathematical physicist A. A. Friedmann developed a set of equations, that if the constants in the equations were found, are able to reveal the ultimate fate of the universe: whether time will come to an end when the entire universe collapse into a single point (like a shrinking balloon which represent our universe, in which the balloon will shrink into the size smaller than an atom) , or time will go on forever with everything in the universe eventually disappears into nothing but empty space.

Since our argument about hyper-inflation in the after-world economy would involve the limit of time, so we select, the case which the universe is collapsing. Following experimental data from astrophysics labs, physicists are able to predict when the universe will collapse into a point: roughly 17 billion (human) years from now. 

This would mean, if the underworld is a subset of our universe, it can exist for another 17 billion underworld-days, which is about 46 million underworld-years. So, dividing 400 million billion HCs into 17 billion days, we have 23.5 million (23,500,000) HCs to spend every afterworld-day. 


Inflation? Of course - given the scarcity of food over the underworld, years after everyone died and become a materialistic hungry-spirit. (human species will barely outlive half of the universe's lifetime, but I digress) I can only see the other world as a wide-spread famine, glamorously adored with jewelry and golden contemporaries that are unnecessary to sustain living (oxymoron) itself. So it is either food is necessary, and hence everyone in the underworld is probably starving in the far future, or the whole concept of food is meaningless (and hence we can cut ourselves from offering food stuffs).

How about the money? Well, turns out, the value of the hell-money they can spend a day cannot be less than the monetary value during the 1923-1924 (note the year the cosmic lifespan formulae was found) German hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic when about half a kilogram of bread costs 3 billion (3,000,000,000) Marks, half a kg of meat costs 36 billion (36,000,000,000) Marks, and a glass of beer costs 4 billion.

But it all depends how much value the printing office of hell-money decides to give them isn't it?

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