Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Title text: If our current civilization lasts another 8,000 years, it's probably fair to assume the Long Now Foundation got things right, and at some point we started listening to them and switched to five-digit years.
|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Is the 10,000 year clock relevant, or should it just be a trivia item?|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Many people make a big deal about dates when the digits follow an interesting pattern, such as 2000-01-01 or 2012-12-12. They might plan special events on these "unique" days. For instance, 2007-07-07 was considered a "lucky" day and had a record number of weddings.
Cueball points out that every date is equally unique, even when the digits aren't in a pattern. The Gregorian calendar is the current way to count time in years, months and days — a unique way to describe this is defined in the ISO 8601 standard. Since time moves only forward, dates will never repeat. Nevertheless, his hobby of stating this fact every day would be incredibly annoying to his listeners.
The title text refers to the Long Now Foundation, who uses five-digit years (e.g. this comic's date would be written "02014-03-10"). The Y2K problem was due to using only two digits to store the year, which would have made dates ambiguous when it rolled from 99 back to 00. Similarly, the Maya calendar had a repeating cycle of 52 years, and even their "long count" rolled over after 7885 years. As we currently use four-digit years this may cause a Y10K problem.
The Long Now Foundation designs a 10,000-year clock that should be able to run for this long — and in principle it could display every date up to 99999-12-31. Randall remarks that by coming close to the year 10,000, our civilization probably will follow this recommendation, unless our civilization is already extinct.
A previous comic on date formats was 1179: ISO 8601.
- [Cueball speaking to Megan and another person.]
- Cueball: Whoa, it's 2014-03-10! Under our system, this day will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!!
- My Hobby: Pointing this out every day.
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