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Here is Today
April 28, 2013 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Here Is Today - a simple interactive animation that helps keep things in perspective.
posted by AceRock (24 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this a lot.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:41 PM on April 28, 2013


Actually kind of freaked me out, because as soon as it got to the century view, I was like, "welp, that's probably longer than I'll get to live." and I COULD STILL SEE THE YELLOW LITTLE SLICE FOR JUST TODAY OH GOD
posted by threeants at 6:44 PM on April 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I like this, but it becomes less effective as the scale increases. At "Here is the Earth", the line for Today should be invisible (certainly not the same width as in "Here is this century"). It demonstrates the limits of this kind of explicitly visual approach.

By contrast, language, which leverages the imagination, can be even more effective at revealing how insignificant we are:
"...stretch your arms to their fullest extent and imagine that width as the entire [4.5 Billion year] history of the Earth. On this scale...the distance from the fingertips of one hand to the wrist of the other is Precambrian. All of complex life is in one hand, 'and in a single stroke with a medium-grained nail file you could eradicate human history.' " (from Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Another example: If you filmed or animated the following thought-experiment, would it render it any more effective?
Imagine people's height being proportional to their income, so that someone with an average income is of average height. Now imagine that the entire adult population of America is walking past you in a single hour, in ascending order of income.

The first passers-by, the owners of loss-making businesses, are invisible: their heads are below ground. Then come the jobless and the working poor, who are midgets. After half an hour the strollers are still only waist-high, since America's median income is only half the mean. It takes nearly 45 minutes before normal-sized people appear. But then, in the final minutes, giants thunder by. With six minutes to go they are 12 feet tall. When the 400 highest earners walk by, right at the end, each is more than two miles tall.
posted by AceRock at 6:48 PM on April 28, 2013 [24 favorites]


Hey, I just listened to Science as a Modern Creation Story today (via this post). The guy speaking does 60 minutes going from the Big Bang to humans, and relates it to other Creation myths. If you liked this, you'll probably like that.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:48 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
posted by Mooski at 6:57 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


They should have this looping on the screens at the DMV.
posted by 4ster at 7:38 PM on April 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here is today.

Here is that moment when you woke up and farted in the next room and felt kinda sneaky because no one heard it but you.

Here is that first trip in the elevator at work. Here is the second. Here is when you go home.

Here is dinner.

Here is when you decide not to have that last beer and to go to bed.

Here is your first dream. Here is your second.

Here is the moment in the second dream where the same thing happens and you wake up in a cold sweat knowing somehow it wasn't a dream but the same little girl trying to find you, to wake you up and tell you something important.

Here is today.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:56 PM on April 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


I love this a lot.

Right. But how much a lot?
posted by cacofonie at 8:00 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based on actuarial tables, family history and other factors, today was about 14,675 / 32,872.5 in my life. That is the only timescale I can actually experience. I prefer to flip the diagram presented for a better perspective. The eras and epochs might as well fill a single pixel. This month, this week, this day get larger until we get to the now. Now is enormous. All those sensations, thoughts and ideas. Now matters infinitely more than a billion years.
posted by humanfont at 8:06 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Hey," he said, "is that really a piece of fairy cake?"

He ripped the small piece of confectionery from the sensors with which it was surrounded.

"If I told you how much I needed this," he said ravenously, "I wouldn't have time to eat it."

He ate it.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:08 PM on April 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Never realized an "eon" was umpteen million years. Never realized there WAS a solid definition for an "eon". There's another word I can't throw around willy-nilly anymore.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:30 PM on April 28, 2013


It sure makes you think.
posted by mazola at 9:03 PM on April 28, 2013


Never realized an "eon" was umpteen million years. Never realized there WAS a solid definition for an "eon". There's another word I can't throw around willy-nilly anymore.

Wikipedia says you're allowed to use it to mean "any long, indefinite, period."
posted by John Cohen at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2013


I am the most important being in this universe.
posted by vidur at 9:10 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


All those days, and only today is specially highlighted. Must be important.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:15 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Right. But how much a lot?

*raises arms to indicate exact amount*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:43 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This made me wonder why geologists divided the eons as they did. I haven't yet found the answer.

Anybody?
posted by Sleeper at 10:22 PM on April 28, 2013


I love this.

Based on actuarial tables, family history and other factors, today was about 14,675 / 32,872.5 in my life. That is the only timescale I can actually experience.

I like that idea, too. I just compared this to my predicted life expectancy (mine is shorter; I am Special) and I am 66% of the way through. Huh. I would like to have blips to show when I was traveling, a span for how long I worked on that one novel, a span for how long I procrastinated working on that other novel, a span for each pet, a span for each love -- and boy howdy the overlaps that love chart would have! I have billion colored pencils and some tape and am sketching this out.
posted by mochapickle at 10:27 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that others already made references to this. It was the first thing that came to my mind.
posted by redyaky at 11:53 PM on April 28, 2013


I am the most important being in this universe.

You are the universe.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:09 AM on April 29, 2013


In the last year, at my new job, a lot of days have felt infinitely huge and heavy.

As soon as I saw today in the year, I felt like, "oh, I can handle today."

Thank you for that.
posted by MsDaniB at 4:20 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is both uplifting and extremely depressing.
posted by Lizard at 5:53 AM on April 29, 2013


Today is still the day I finish University and that is utterly terrifying...
posted by Strass at 8:25 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's got a watch with a minute hand, millennium hand, and an eon hand.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


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