Why Did 1234567890 Day Matter?

Posted: February 14, 2009 in Geek
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As the title of this post implies some of you have been asking, “Who cares if the Unix Epoch Clock reaches 1234567890? It doesn’t really affect anything.” And to be fair, that’s true, it doesn’t. But, it does provide an opportunity to gain a little numerical perspective.

Like most of you I’ve been listening to all the numbers being bandied about regarding the stimulus/bailout/please-keep-our-collective-asses-out-of-the-fire package. It always strikes me odd the way people talk about $300 billion or $750 billion and most of us really have little concept about just how much money that is. We know it’ s a immensely huge amount of money, but can any of us in the everyday world relate to these kind of numbers.

Well, consider this: Let’s say that back on January 1st, 1970 you and a few buds were asked to count out the $350 billion the government was planning to give the auto industry. So the lot of you started counting, working in shifts 24 hours a day seven days a week, every day of the year including leap year, counting at a rate of 1 dollar per second non-stop.

That means that yesterday at 6:31:30pm EST you would have only counted $1.2 billion dollars!! that just 0.34% of the entire $350,000,000,000. It will be 4:30 am EST on May18th, 2033 before you finish counting the second billion! With that in mind try to imagine for a second what a trillion dollars looks like because that’s what some are suggesting the stimulus package will be in total when all is said and done. (BTW – You’ll finish counting a trillion somewhere around the year 33670. yeah, that’s right – 5 digits!)

I have often thought that when we stopped doing accounting by hand, with the endless hours of spreadsheet tabulations and the tickida-tickida-tickida of the adding machines ringing in our ears, and let the computers do it for us in the blink of an eye, we lost our sense of perspective on just how much we were spending. The quick flash of numbers on a screen does not compare to miles of paper tape rolling out of a desktop calculator to make us turn to the powers that be and cry, “Oh my GOD! Are you insane?” There’s just something about doing things manually that helps keep the universe in perspective.

Until next time … hopefully sometime before 1266207752

Shalom.

Image Credit: Life Magazine

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