If our 13.8 billion-year-old universe was condensed into a calendar year, with the Big Bang occurring on 1 January and the present moment being midnight on 31 December, humans have only existed for 90 minutes. Dinosaurs appeared just five days ago, the pyramids were built 12 seconds ago and the Renaissance occurred a mere second ago.
This ‘cosmic calendar’, first used by Carl Sagan in the 1970s, shows us as the late arrivals that humans are in the expansive, mind-bending scale of the universe’s timespan. And if the average human life lasts around 72 years, that equates to less than 0.2 of a second on this 365-day scale.
But while the cosmic calendar is an incredible tool to show us our place in a staggeringly long past, it perhaps cannot demonstrate our place in the infinite nature of the future.
“Hope is optimism with a plan. I think it’s sad that often when we think about caring for the future, we ask ourselves how we can delete our footprint from the planet.”BEATRICE ERKERS, THE EXISTENTIAL HOPE PROJECT
Thinking into the distant future is not easy, especially on infinite timescales, but we must recognise the need for conscious, compassionate, long-term thinking. Threats like climate change, pandemics and food shortages may be impacting us now, but they will have a far more severe impact on the billions of people yet to be born.
This hub is dedicated to projects and people who are contemplating, living and inspiring a truly infinite mindset – whether safeguarding the lives yet to exist or inviting us to think beyond our own lifetimes.
We hope it will offer a sense of peace, perspective and catharsis in the present as we recognise our short and precious moment of time in what might be an infinite universe.