I remember listening to the original radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This was back in the late 1970s when I was still a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed student at university (before life ground me down into the sad, bitter, twisted man you see before you today).
There were some great lines in that program, such as when the alien, Ford Prefect, tells our hero, Arthur Dent: "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." Arthur immediately responds "Very deep. You should send that in to the Reader's Digest. They've got a page for people like you."
Like so many of these sayings, Adams managed to link two disparate ideas together -- one important and one trivial -- for humorous effect. In this case, on the one hand we have the fact that the true nature of time is an incredibly deep question that is not well understood (see also my review of In Search of Time by Dan Falk). On the other hand we have the fact that time seems to go faster when you are doing something you enjoy, like having lunch. But we digress...
The reason I'm waffling on about this here is that my chum Jay Dowling just pointed me at a rather fascinating website called Poodwaddle.com.
Much like the time-traveling inventor in H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, the folks at Poodwaddle are dedicated to time, as in the past, the present, and the future. In addition to a bunch of other stuff, they gather statistics about the past and present predictions for the future.
When you visit the Poodwaddle website, you can see all of these statistics being displayed in real-time. These range from the number of people being born and passing away, to the amount of energy being consumed, to the number of people who have just had their first kiss, to the amount of beer being produced. (Oooh, beer!)
Some of this stuff is scary, like the Oil Reserve Depletion Timer, which predicts that the world will run out of oil in approximately 47 years based on current rates of production. Other information is strangely fascinating, like watching the real-time numbers of births and deaths and the corresponding change in the world's population. For example, according to Poodwaddle, 8,648 people have been born and 3,639 people have died since I started writing this column, which means the overall population has increased by around 5,000 souls.
All I can say is that it makes you think. Speaking of which, what do you think?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting