Sometimes it seems the world is so screwed up we should just build a new one from scratch--and now we finally know how much such a project would cost.
In gloriously geeky fashion, economics students at Lehigh University tried to estimate how long it would take and how much it would cost to build the Empire's ginormous man-made planetship if we were to get started today.
The students started by assuming the Death Star could be made from steel, and that the ship would be about as steel-dense as a modern warship, in particular the HMS Illustrious. Applying that steel density to the Death Star's size--the moon-size weapon was reportedly 140 km in diameter--they determined that just over a quadrillion tons of steel (quadrillion comes after trillion) would be required for construction.
That much steel would take more than 800,000 years to produce at current rates, however, so someone might want to see if the boys at the smelter are willing to work some overtime, along with the next few thousand generations.
On the bright side for Death Star fans, that will give us plenty of time to save the quadrillions of dollars needed to pay for the steel alone, not to mention contractors. I don't suppose we'll have to worry about paying very generous benefits given the Empire's track record, though...