history technology time universe

The order of things

Universe is 14 billion years old (~~ 4.3×10^17 seconds)
Sun is 4.57 billion years old
Earth is 4.54 billion years old
Life is 3.8 billion years old
Mammals are 225 million years old
Humans are 200,000 years old
Religion is 102,000 years old
Cities are 5,000 years old
China is 4,085 years old
Judaism is 3,828 years old
Hinduism is 3,100 years old
Rome is 2,768 years old
Democracy is 2,525 years old
Christianity is 1,985 years old
London is 1,973 years old
Islam is 1,450 years old
Gun powder is 972 years old
The telescope is 408 years old
New York is 351 years old
America is 240 years old
The locomotive is 204 years old
The repeating rifle 167 years old
“On the Origin of Species” is 156 years old
Dynamite is 148 years old
Radio is 120 years old
Nuclear weapons are 70 years old
The worldwide web is 24 years old

advice time

What Getting Older Has Felt Like (For Me)

grow old along with me the best is yet to beI’m not old yet. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. Old is some sort of benevolent trap that some of us make it to. I’m not trying to talk about old today, but older. I am older.

Sure, we’re all older—older than we used to be, older than even a moment ago. But I am categorically older. I’m firmly middle-aged now. There was no one moment when this dawned on me. It was many small realizations over time.

The most surprising thing about growing older is that it doesn’t really feel like anything. It’s not nearly as dramatic as moving from child to adult. Your body and your attitudes change in subtle, gradual ways.

When I was a young adult, I never thought about my own aging. I knew it would happen in some abstract way. But I assumed it would feel dramatically different. And that’s the biggest surprise.

I tend to notice my aging reflected in the aging of others. With friends and family, especially those older than me who I don’t see often, I figure that since they’re getting older that I must be getting older, too. Only then do I think to look for, and find, my accumulated aging in the mirror.

I also notice some decline in my physical abilities. My eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be, nor is my digestion. I have similar strength and stamina as my twenties, but only because I care much more about those things now and work to maintain what I have.

There are advantages to aging. I feel more emotionally secure. The thirst for excitement has been replaced by an appreciation of calm. I feel like I have less to prove to others and myself. It’s a slower pace that might have bored me then but now provides endless opportunity for wonder.

My sense of time is different. I was 13 in 1983. I got a greatest hits Beatles cassette for Christmas that was mostly their music before 1965. Then, those 20-year-old recordings seemed of the same generic past of telegrams and WWII. Now, 20 years ago seems only a little less like yesterday than yesterday.