Friday, February 24, 2006

Fun with math

One of my favorite Bob the Angry Flower comics:(click the pic for a larger version)

Anyway, I decided to do the math to see how long 10^11 and 10^36 seconds are in more easily graspable terms. A year ought to be roughly 60 X 60 x 24 X 365 seconds. That's about 3 X 10^7 seconds in length. "10^11 seconds earlier" would be 4 orders of magnitude larger, or around 10,000 years. So the transition from Angry Flower to Robo Galactic Mega Brain took about that long. Mega Bob has 10^39 more seconds before the universe collapses. That's a pretty dang long time, something like 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years. That's about 22 orders of magnitude larger than the present estimated age of the universe. The authors of The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity invented a whole new time scale to be able to deal with these sorts of spans. They use, IIRC, 'cosmological decades' where each decade is an order of magnitude of seconds larger than the previous one. I.e. the first cosmological decade was over when the universe was one second old. Ten seconds later the next one ended. I think we're presently in the tenth cosmological decade. I'll have to go back to the library and check to see if Bob's numbers for the End of All Things match the predictions of Five Ages authors Adams and Laughlin.