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February 14, 2012

#1017: Backward in Time

Backward in Time

When I have a boring task to get through – a three-hour lecture, a giant file download, or a long term point goal in fitocracy – I use this formula to convert the percentage completed (p) into a date:

T=(Current Date) - (e^(20.344p^3) - e^3) years

When the task is 0% done, it gives today’s date, and as I make progress, I move further and further back in time

((inverse given in lighter colors))

Inverse: p = sqrt((ln(T+e^3)-3)


[[Line Graph explaining the correlation between completion percentages and temporal deltas.

0% = now ((Date of comic is 2012-02-14T00:00-0500, approx. 1329195600 UNIX))

10% = September 2011

20% = 2008

30% = 1997

40% = 1958

50% = 1776

60% = 405 AD

70% = 22,000 years ago

80% = 671,000 years ago

90% = 55 million years ago

100% = 13.8 billion years ago


It moves slowly through the first few years, then steadily accelerates. I tuned the formula so the time spent in each part of the past is loosely proportional to how well I know it. This means I hit familiar landmarks with each bit of progress, giving me a satisfying sense of movement.

((The following are panels detailing completion percentages, correlated time periods, and notable events from this time period))

7.308% December 18, 2011

Around this time:

Kim Jong-Il dies. US leaves Iraq.

31.12% February 1995

Around this time:

Windows 95 debuts. OJ found not guilty.

47.91% 1844

Around this time:

Rubber vulcanized, bicycle invented, wrench patented.

70.33% 24,000 years ago

Around this time:

Caves painted, ceramic art made. Neanderthals extinct.

90.42% 68 million years ago

Around this time:

First flowering plants. Chicxulub impact kills off most dinosaurs.

100% 13.76 billion years ago

Around this time:

Universe begins. First stars ignite.

Download complete.

[[Person 1 watches a download progress on a laptop in amazement and happiness. Person 2 stands nearby and looks at person 1 with a bemused posture]]

Person 1: Swoosh! Watching all that time blur past is such a rush!

Person 2: So… you’ve tried to make an extreme sport out of.. waiting.

Person 1: Swoosh!