My Black pages

A paper trail 2.4km tall.

Conrad Black's lawyer, Edward Greenspan, claims that “seven million or more pieces of paper” have been produced so far in the USA v. Conrad Black et al. trial. How much paper is that? Well, a 500-sheet package of 20-pound printer paper is about five centimetres thick. So if the court documents were gathered in a single pile, it would stand about 700 metres. That's taller than any existing building (see illustration). Lest it go to Black's head, though, his stack would still be dwarfed by the Tower of Babel — which according to the Book of Jubilees (an ancient Hebrew text) reached an improbable 5,433 cubits and two palms (about 2.4 kilometres) into the heavens.

If we guess that each page contains 250 words, then you're looking at 1.75 billion in total. Granted, most would not be of the $10 variety oft employed by Black, and many pages are reportedly duplicates, but that's daunting nonetheless. Reading for comprehension, a person might chew through 250 words per minute. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, it would take about 58 years to read it all — or more than twice Jeffrey Skilling's prison sentence.