Everyone knows Y2K (or else you wouldn’t be reading past this parentesis), but there’s also Y2K38 (32-bit Unix timestamps run out) and the Y292B277M026K596 problem. Why not get rid of these problems through the power of science?
The Planck time, at roughly 5.39106×10-44 seconds, is
the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible. The Universe is, at current reckoning, about
13.75 ± 0.11 billion years. Seems to me we could put these facts together, and create the last reckoning our computers will ever need. With a bit of generous rounding, we get to around 2.6×1053 Planck time units of time until now. Converting to binary, that’s 177 bits. But what about the future? Well, since computers generally work best when given data in sizes equal to a power of two, we might as well round up to the nearest – 256 – And have plenty of time. In fact, 256 bits (less than it takes to store your postal address) would be sufficient to store time units until way, way beyond the existence of the human race, or indeed, of the fundamental particles of the universe.
What would you like to have said, if it were you behind the “big green button” when the LHC starts in 2008? It’s the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, said to be the most complex machine ever built, and will most likely set the stage for the next level of theoretical physics, so it had better be in the “One small step” category.