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To the Editor:

It emerged to me, reading Joseph Sawyer's letter ~ above the nationwide debt ceiling (Sept. 14), that i didn't know what $1 sunshine is, permit alone $2 trillion. The course, ns knew the a trillion is a thousand billion and that a billion is a thousand million. But I didn't really know what that means. Knowing there space 12 zeros in a trillion didn't help much either.

Why not think of that in regards to seconds, i asked myself? A trillion secs would need to be years, probably many years ago. Ns made a wild guess. As it turned out, i wasn't close. I discovered that 1,000 seconds ago was same to practically 17 minutes. It would certainly take virtually 12 days for a million secs to elapse and 31.7 years because that a billion seconds. Therefore, a trillion secs would amount to no much less than 31,709.8 years.

A trillion seconds ago, there to be no written history. The pyramids had actually not yet been built. It would certainly be 10,000 years before the cave paintings in France to be begun, and saber-toothed tigers were still prowling the planet.

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I was stunned. At very first I thought I must have made a mistake, yet a banker friend checked my figures and pronounced them accurate.

Was ns alone in no knowing exactly how long earlier a trillion secs was? ns asked few of my next-door neighbors what they would certainly say if they were told they could have $1 sunshine in one-dollar bills, so long as lock agreed to initial every bill. Their answers were an extremely similar. ''No!'' castle said. When I inquiry why, lock said, practically without exception, ''Because it would certainly take me the remainder of mine life!''

We must all of us, especially our chosen officials, protect against thinking that a trillion seconds as just a lengthy time ago and a sunshine dollars as simply a many money. The following time our senators and representatives think about the commonwealth deficit and the expense of the arms race, castle should allow themselves briefly to think the seconds instead of dollars. They might then picture, if they would, prehistoric man hunched in a smoke-filled cave, gnawing in ~ the bones of a woolly mammoth. DOROTHY C. MORRELL Seattle, Sept. 18, 1986