Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's a binary world after all.....

Just out of curiosity, I decided to find out how many bits were required to uniquely identify every human being alive - turns out to be just a handful. Let's see -
The current world population (14:24 GMT 10/12/05) - 6,472,184,054.
Converted to binary, this is - 110000001110001011011000011110110.
That's 33 bits.
But, with 33 bits the maximum number that can be obtained is 8,589,934,591 (around 8.5 Billion). At the current growth rate(of 1.4% p.a.), this'll overflow around 2024. Hmmm, no good.

Let's try adding a bit. Since adding a bit doubles its max value, we can go upto 17,179,869,183 (17 Billion) with 34 bits. Now, the population doubling time with a 1.4% growth rate is around 51 years. Hence, having 34 bits will fail around 2075. So, assuming that we don't nuke ourselves to kingdom come in the next 400 odd years, we just need 37 bits to safely cover the entire human population ( for the next 400 years atleast ).If that does'nt make us seem insignificant, what will? ( The Total Perspective Vortex perhaps????)

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