This one’s mine!
So I was conversing with a fellow I know, and the right side of my brain asked the left side, “So just how much square footage per person is there these days?” We both agreed that seemed like an interesting question (given all the people running around these days), so we looked around for a body to help us research the answer.
We just happened to find one handy, so off we all went to the virtual library and math lab. Unfortunately our math consultant was a Communications Arts major and made a small error thinking square kilometers to square miles was the same as kilometers to miles. Fortunately everyone involved obsessively double-checks their work, so we caught the error in time.
Pity, though. The original answer would have been fun to write about.
Yesterday I introduced you to the idea of words as numbers. There are many ways to create a map between words and numbers. For example, we could assign them the number that represents their position in the dictionary. That would make words that start with “A” have smaller numbers while words that start with “Z” would have the largest numbers.
There are also ways to treat the words themselves as numbers. We can interpret the letters the same way we do digits. Each letter has an assigned numeric value, and then a string of letters—just like string of digits—forms a number. The scheme I showed you yesterday allows us to treat (only!) single words as numbers.
Now let’s extend this so that entire sentences—or even entire books—become numbers!
I’d planned to do this later, probably for Sideband #64, but in honor of my parents 64th wedding anniversary (2 parents, 64 years, okay!) this numerical rumination gets queue-bumped to now.
Just recently I wrote about 64-bit numbers and how 64 bits allows you to count to the (small, compared to where we’re going) number:
264 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616
That’s 18 exabytes (or 18 giga-gigabyes). Just to put it into perspective, if we were counting seconds, it amounts to 584,942,417,355 years; more than 500 billion years! (That’s the American, short-scale billion.)
A long, long time ago on a USENET far, far away, I was part of a debate that started with the idea that, even if we had disk drives with 64-bit addressing, people would still fill them up with videos, images and whatnot.
The idea grew from some of us old-timers reminiscing about our first brick-sized 5-meg hard drive and how we thought, “Gee, I’ll never fill that up!” (And look how that turned out; I have single image files that wouldn’t fit on that drive!)
The premise was that, even with seriously gigantic hard drives, we’d still manage to fill them and need more, more, more…