A wise man once said that time keeps on slippin’ (slippin’) into the future. On the other hand, he may have had that backwards and time is heading into the past. Or you could believe those who think time is cyclical and the present and the past are the same thing. For practical purposes it probably doesn’t matter.
If your mind is occupied by time, though, you may be interested to know some more about the timeline we’re on and where all manner of significant moments sit in relation to others. The human mind has a tricky way of understanding time and that means some things are often closer, or much further away, than you think.
10. We Are Closer to The Jetsons Vision of the Future Than When It Aired
Once upon a time, one of the most well-known visions of the future came to us as The Jetsons, a sort of future answer to the prehistoric world of The Flintstones. The cartoon premiered in 1962 and promised a fantastic world of the future with flying cards, space stations and sentient, robot servants. Is that future still in the cards? Maybe, but the dates seem off.
The makers of the Jetsons decided to pick a nice, round number for their future world. It took place 100 years in the future. Except, because it was 1962, that means the show takes place in 2062. And that means we currently live in a world closer to the fictional Jetsons than the real year it was produced.
Of course, we still have a few years to catch up with George and Judy, but it looks like their predictions might be a little off base.
9. T. Rexes Are Closer in Time to Us Than They Are to Stegosaurus
Thanks to movies like Jurassic Park, people have a somewhat jumbled perception of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs roamed the earth for about 165 million years. Primitive human ancestors only go back about 300,000 years. Dinosaurs had a hell of a long time and that means there were plenty that never met each other and had tens of millions of years between them.
This difference is best exemplified by comparing three separate creatures – humans, Tyrannosaurus rexes and the stegosaurus. They all existed together in Jurassic Park, but it wasn’t even close in nature. Stegosaurus were the only of the three of us that actually lived in the Jurassic era. They were dragging their thagomizers around 144 million years ago. The T. rex, on the other hand, was in the Cretaceous period and that ended 65 million years ago. At best, there were 77 million years before those two animals. And between us and the T. rex is just 65 million. So we are actually closer, even though it’s a pretty loose definition of close.
8. Less Time Separates Nirvana From Woodstock Than Separates Nirvana From Today
Nirvana was one of the seminal bands of the 90s and is credited as being possibly the biggest band of the Grunge Movement that came out of the 80s and early 90s. The tragic story of Kurt Cobain’s rise and death is widely known, and he still has legions of fans to this day.
One thing guaranteed to make any Nirvana fan feel a little blue these days relates to just where that band sits in music history now. Nirvana, as a band, was closer to being part of Woodstock in 1969 than they are to being part of today’s music scene.
The band got together in 1987. By 1991 they were internationally renowned thanks to the release of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Three short years later the band was torn apart with the apparent suicide of Cobain. Depending on when you come across this, that was 29 years ago.
When the band formed in 1987, they were only 18 years removed from that epic concert of peace, love and rock n roll known as Woodstock.
7. The Diomede Islands Are Less Than 3 Miles But 21 Hours Apart
If you’re not a geography buff, you may not know about the Diomede Islands. There are two of them, cleverly named Big Diomede and Little Diomede. Only three miles separate the two islands so you can take a boat trip pretty easily from one to the other. Big Diomede is off the eastern tip of Russia. Little Diomede is just in American waters. There’s also one notable thing in that three-mile stretch that separates them and that’s the International Date Line.
Because the IDL is right there, when it’s noon on Big Diomede, it’s three pm the previous day on Little Diomede. A full 21 hours passes, going back in time, as you travel from Big to Little. Or you could go the opposite way and leap into the future by almost a day.
There’s actually a town on Little Diomede and 83 people call it home. When they wake up in the morning, they can literally see Russia from their front doors. .
6. Cleopatra Lived Closer to the Present Than the Pyramids’ Construction
The Egyptian Empire was one of the most well known in human history and also one of the most influential. The pyramids still stand to this day and the history of Egypt with its pharaohs, mythology and beliefs is widely known. In terms of historical figures it also has its share who have lived beyond their years in our collective memories. Few have held our imaginations like Cleopatra.
Cleopatra was famously a lover of Julius Caesar and she was also Egypt’s last ruler before it fell into Roman control. She and her husband Marc Antony committed suicide and thus ended the Egyptian Empire.
One of the more remarkable aspects of Cleopatra’s reign is when it occurred in a historical context. Her death took place in 30 BC, so let’s say for the sake of simplicity it was about 2,050 years ago. The pyramids were built by 2490 BC. The Great Pyramid was built around 2580 BC. That means Cleopatra was closer in time to man landing on the moon than she was to the construction of the pyramids in the land she ruled. That also means Jesus Christ, who lived not too far off from Cleopatra, is also closer to computers, TikTok and McNuggets than he was to the pyramids.
5. The Average UK Child Spends Less Time Outside Than An Inmate
For most people their chief concern relating to time is how they spend it because a lot of us feel like we don’t have enough. You need time to get work done, time to get where you’re going, time to unwind, time to figure things out. But how much time is normal?
In 2016, a poll in the UK determined that a remarkable 75% of children spent less time outside than your average prison inmate. You can see how this would be somewhat shocking news since inmates are literally in prison and children are not.
The survey covered 2,000 parents. Aside from 75% of the kids not even spending an hour a day outside, which is what convicts get, 20% weren’t going out at all on any kind of regular basis. So a sort of self-imposed solitary confinement for them. This followed conclusions from government research suggesting that one in nine kids had not been in any kind of green space like a park, a forest or a beach in over a year, not even for a minute.
So why were kids staying indoors? There were at least three things blamed which included a lack of places for kids to play, the allure of electronics in the house, and parents’ fears about letting their kids outside.
4. The Center of the Earth is 2.5 Years Younger Than the Outside
Gravity and time make strange bedfellows in the sense that gravity causes time to slow down a bit. Because of how this works, according to Einstein, the core of the earth has a stronger gravitational effect than the surface which is further from that gravity well.
The result of Earth’s own gravity wonking up time is that, even though the exterior and interior formed at the same time, the interior is about 2.5 years younger because time flows slower there. Good news for King Kong and the residents of Hollow Earth!
It’s not just earth that works this way, of course. Any planetary body will suffer the same effect. The sun, for instance, was calculated to have a core 40,000 years younger than the surface.
3. Time Flies Slower on the Space Station Than On Earth
One of the big problems with time, as Einstein once discovered, is relativity. As in, time is relative. Most of us, in our day to day lives on Earth, don’t see this. All our clocks are pretty consistent. But what about folks who aren’t on Earth?
If you head up to the space station, you will notice in no way that time flows differently. In much the same way that time flows differently in the center of the earth, it flows differently out there in orbit around the earth. Because of the space station’s velocity in space, astronauts on board age 0.007 seconds less than people on Earth.
Astronaut Scott Kelly, who has a twin, spent 11 months on board the space station. When he returned to earth he pointed out that he was now technically younger than his twin, having shaved a whopping 13 milliseconds of his time in the universe. It’s not a lot, but it’s something.
2. Woolly Mammoths Still Existed When the Pyramids Were Built
Prehistory, or what many people think of as prehistory, is actually very confusing to many people. This is due in part because schools teach very little about ancient history and mostly focus on local history. Americans, for instance, are mostly taught the history of their own country which has only existed since 1776. Sure, you can take more specialized history in later years of school, but that eliminates a vast number of students who will never take those classes.
If schools had taught more history about wooly mammoths, fewer people would be surprised to learn that, while the Egyptians were busy enjoying the Great Pyramid of Giza, there were mammoths stomping around the northern hemisphere, happy as you please.
Most mammoths were gone by about 10,000 years ago. But most is not all. Way up in the Arctic, in a place called Wrangel Island, mammoths stayed around until 1650 BC. That’s a long time ago to us, but the pyramids were already 1,000 years old at that point.
1. The Guillotine Was Still in Use the Year Star Wars Came Out
What time period comes to mind when you think of the guillotine? For most of us it’s probably the French Revolution when the execution device rose to infamy even as it fell on the heads of many an aristocrat. As you may recall, near the end of the 1700s both King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lost their heads.
As with many methods of execution like hanging and the electric chair, the guillotine was phased out over time in favor of executions considered more humane. But the timeframe in which that happened is something many people seem surprised to learn.
The guillotine far outlived the French Revolution. It also made it through the entire next century, withstood two World Wars, and even most of the age of disco. The final criminal to die by guillotine in France was a man named Hamida Djanboudi. He had killed his ex and was sentenced to die.
Djanboudi was executed on September 10, 1977. The very next day was the French premiere of Star Wars. So, after its introduction in 1789, the guillotine managed to far outlive its victims before being retired at the age of 188.