Title text: I think the IETF hit the right balance with the 128 bits thing. We can fit MAC addresses in a /64 subnet, and the nanobots will only be able to devour half the planet.
Megan and Ponytail are in orbit while evil nanobots are devouring the earth in a swarm. The nanobots stop after devouring 40% of the planet. This is a take on the "gray goo" scenario in which self-replicating nanobots destroy the earth while creating more and more of themselves non-stop.
However, the nanobots are only able to destroy 40% of the planet because 40% of the earth mass = (# of IPv6 addresses) x (A few cubic microns). Without more IP addresses, the nanobots cannot continue to replicate (assuming that each nanobot must be individually addressable).
1998 is when the IPv6 Specification (RFC 2460) was published and IETF is the Internet Engineering Task Force.
- [Megan and commander are on a space station.]
- Megan: Commander! Come quick!
- Megan: It's the nanobots—
- Megan: They've STOPPED!
- Megan: They devoured 40% of the Earth, and then just ... quit! They're just sitting there!
- Megan: Why?!
- Ponytail: It's a mystery. ... unless ... What's the volume of each nanobot?
- Megan: A few cubic microns. Why?
- Ponytail: I think the year 1998 just bought us some time.
- [Earth's surface, covered in mountains of nanobots.]
- In the swarm:
- Nanobot: What do you mean, "Run out of addresses?"
- Other Nanobot: Look, we should've migrated away from IPv6 AGES ago ...