Countdown to Certain Doom


Is everyone ok?  Good.  Whew.  I was worried.  We have just survived S1234567890!

At exactly 11:00pm GMT—that’s 6:00pm EST and 3:00pm PST—the Unix clock that has been ticking the seconds since midnight, January 1, 1970, reached 1234567890.  There’s no particular significance to the event, other than all the Arabic numerals being arranged in order; the real worry will come in 2038, when the clock runs out of numbers all together.  It’s a 32-bit binary clock, period, so when it wraps around on January 19, 2038, it will seem to indicate 1901 instead; you can watch a mesmerizing little demo here.  The clock was started up, the “digital equivalent of the birth of Christ” says one article, as a way for computers to keep time, and even computers that don’t run on Unix use its clock.  It’s potentially a problem, but for now, all we need to worry about is the quirky fun of number humor.  Happy 1234567890, everyone!


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