Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Friday, July 05, 2013

Human history vs Earth's history

 
If we wrote the entire history of Earth on A4 paper at 1,000 years per page, the stack would reach up a bit over 1,533 feet - higher than the top of the antenna on the Empire State Building.
 
Of the 9,200 reams of paper, only the top 5 would have anything about humanoid creatures; the last ream (thinner than the top line of the column in this diagram) would contain the entire history of homo sapiens, and the uppermost 0.8 inches would record modern man (homo sapiens sapiens).
 
The final 10 leaves tell of what happened since the end of the last Ice Age, and the first writing by Man himself (in Sumerian) appears on the fifth-to-last page.
 
As you float in the air above, you reach out and pick up the top sheet, which is written in the language of the time. In the British edition, the first half of the page is unintelligible to the ordinary reader, as it's a mixture of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Norse, Norman French and Middle English. Even the early part of the second half, in Modern English, can be confusing, as it may contain words no longer used, and others whose meaning has since changed.
 
A standard A4 sheet contains 46 lines at 8 - 9 words per line, so the history of the globe since 1900 is covered in the last 5 lines - about 40 words. There are only 8 people in the world still alive who were born before then; all of them are female.
 
The last dinosaurs - wiped out by the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, 66 million years ago - are to be found 22 feet further down the stack - still nearly 40 feet above the top of the antenna on the Empire State.
 
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