Exploring Time with a Zoomable Calendar

Below find a five mebibyte version of the future-past calendar time-zoomed around the present, as discussed on our "earth times" page. This calendar makes guesses as to when the ages of "planet-think", "circumnavigation", "food-production", "human-community", "controlled-fire", "primates", "mammals", and "metazoans" will end if we don't focus on postponing those ends for as long as possible. Addressing these challenges will depend on our collective insight into the way processes work on different scales of size and organization as well as time.

How large does the multi-billion year calendar grow as one zooms (below right) into the domain of modern times? Hint: The animation might in fact be growing the fixed figure at left until it's the size of planet earth. Conversely, can your visual imagination track the shrinking size of the "140 year" calendar square (light magenta in color) as one "zooms out" to the multi-billion year scale? Caution for what it's worth: Trying this makes my brain want to explode!

Note: The shrinkage that occurs as you zoom out from small to large time scales is like what happens when you turn down the magnification of an atomic resolution electron microscope. Thus for example if the field-height of the initial 21.5 billion year calendar is about 9[cm] on your computer monitor, at that zoom-setting a 100[year] time interval is only about 3.5[Ångstroms] long i.e. the distance between those atom-thick graphene sheets that rub off when you draw with a pencil. Nanoscience simulators for such spatial zooms (some in all three dimensions) may be found here.

In the figure below find the splashScreen for a draft interactive time-exploration program designed to work with the free Mathematica Player. This demo allows you to zoom in on any time of interest. The next version of this interactive calendar will have active hyperlinks as well. Such a zooming-calendar format could eventually serve as one way for accessing a time-wiki database, to which observational studies on past and future events are linked with help from specialists in wide ranging areas. Historians as well as cosmologists, paleontologists, molecular biologists, planetary geologists, and astro-biologists with an eye on earth's future, could all contribute significantly to a project like this. Wouldn't it be cool if a kid could zoom into anyplace on the time scale, and find links to the evidence that we have about what was (or will be) going on? With help from a location filter, they might even be able to get information on the past and future of their own backyard...

Our "earth times" page has a fairly large list of places at which to read more about it.