Carbon Dating and Clock of the Long Now

Marie Curie discovered that radiation was emitted from the decay of an atom over time. Then, Marie and Pierre Curie found the half life of carbon resulting in “Carbon dating.” Radiometric dating has been key to scientific advances showing that mythical stories about the earth being 6000 years old are just stories – not facts.

Thanks to Carbon dating, we’ve learnt about our past and the movement of Homo sapiens. This is thanks to a story written by the charcoal in our ancestor’s bones that we could only understand once we understood atomic physics.

On the flip side, our many technological advances have shrunk time in a way we’d never have imagined. We live in a time when everything is expected to happen instantly or in “real time.” The same advances have led to a group of entrepreneurs to fund a 10,000 year clock or the “Clock of the Long Now.” The builders of this clock intend this to be a nod to longer term thinking.

Will we take the long term perspective or let the short term triumph? Will we be high frequency traders or good ancestors?

Only time will tell.

“This is the paradox of our age. On the one hand, we have short attention spans and an ability to measure time in minuscule increments. But, on the other, we are able to trace human actions back to thousands of years and also have an appreciation for the fact that this advance was 500 years in the making.” | Steven Johnson

Source and thanks to: How we got to now by Steven Johnson