The Year Wrap-up
(by Grenzfurthner)

The entire earth’s surface stretches out over 510 million km^2, whereby 149 million km^2 is land (29.2%) and 361 million km^2 (70.8%) is water. The earth’s surface is in motion marginally and is displacing itself, but only by a few centimeters per year. The earth completes a turn around its axis every 24 hours (measured in star days). Furthermore, the earth revolves around the sun in 365.256 days (sidereal orbital period). The length of the earth’s course is approximately 940 million kilometers. That means that every human being is whizzing along at about 30 km per hour in relation to the sun. Additionally, the sun (and with it the earth) is moving a) toward a constellation named Hercules (19.4 km/s), b) with the entire spiral arm around the center of our galaxy (272 km/s) and c) with the entire galaxy toward another galaxy (264 km/s).

Thus we’ve come quite a long way.

A neuron in the human brain has an average of between one thousand and ten thousand synapses (connections) to bordering neurons. If every synapse answers an elementary question with a yes/no answer, then the greatest possible number of yes/no answers is (bit, logo) 10^10 x 10^3 = 10^13 bits. Some of these synapses must carry the same information that is carried by other synapses; others must be responsible for motoric or noncognitive capacities; some of them might be empty and waiting for information to flow through. If every human brain had only one synapse (which would be the equivalent of monumental stupidity), then only two mental states would be possible. If we had two synapses, it would be 2^2 states. With three it would be 2^3 states. And yet the human brain has 10^13 synapses. Thus the number of different states of the human brain is two raised to this power. Due to the immense number of functionally differing configurations of the human brain, not even two human beings can come close to being the same. These enormous numbers may be able to account for the unpredictability of human behavior and for those moments in which we even surprise ourselves with our behavior. In view of these numbers, it is a wonder that there is any regularity in human behavior at all. There must be an enormous number of mental configurations that no human being in the history of humanity has ever experienced or even distantly conceived of. The average data processing rate (conscious/unconscious; visual, aural, olfactory, feelings, etc.) of the human brain is approximately 100 bits per second. In a year that is approximately 3 x 10^9 bits.

Thus we have thought a lot.

In 2003 (according to researchers at the University of California in a study from autumn 2003) approximately 800 megabytes of new information were produced for each person on the planet (arithmetic mean). 92% of these 800 megabytes are stored on magnetic data media, primarily on hard drives and video/audio cassettes. 7.75% are film and photo information. 0.03% wind up on paper in the form of books and magazines; this value has risen 36% since 1999, primarily because computer printouts have become faster and cheaper. 0.001% are optical data media like CDs and DVDs. The figure of 800 megabytes is approximately twice as much as the figure for 2000. Since 1998, more information has been produced by humans than had been produced in the entirety of human history up to that time (incl. emails, text messages, telephone conversations etc.).

Thus we have experienced a lot.

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