Am I worth nothing? Math says YES!

I am a scientist! And as a scientist, I always try to study things, understand them and invent something new, something that changes the world, makes it a bit better or makes something easier. Or maybe just discover some knowledge that leads other researches to invent something useful. We seek to understand the world we live in, and we want to contribute something.

Albert Einstein and friends of the past did tremendously valuable stuff that changed the whole direction of technical evolution in the last decades. And before, there have been other smart guys, inventing something game changing like how to make fire, or that a wheel is turning more easily than a square.

This fact lead me think of what my work is worth for humanity? But then I thought, humanity only exists since a very short time related to the age of the earth? To be more precise, earth exists since about 4.54 Billion (109) years whereas humans exist since roughly only 200.000 years. This picture illustrates the relation a bit more colourful.

Age of world and humans

It shows the age of our earth in blue and the time portion in which we exist in black. So even if I gonna invent something that is really cool, in the history of earth, it just disappears.

But wait, for how long does our planet exist? And isn’t it just one little tiny planet in the universe? The age of the universe is being estimated by calculating the time elapsed since the big bang, as this is the best we can guess. Which is 13.7 Billion years, nearly 3 times as old as our earth. And the universe has some more planets than the earth. So if I start asking myself what I am worth, I cannot ask what I am worth for the world, I better should ask, what is my value for general existence?

Ok, lets start some calculations. Image I would invent the most brilliant stuff that humans have ever seen, this is just affecting mankind and thus only

\frac{2 * 10^5}{13.7 * 10^9} = 0.0000146

of all time since now, which is a dimension of 10-5. This is not too bad, I can still believe, that earth and humans will exists for a few more billion years where they can profit from my discovery. But whatever happens, finally in 7.5 Billion years, sun will absorb earth.

But what happens if earth dies? What is the influence on existence at all. Scary, but the answer is: Absolutely nothing. There are about 1024 planets in the universe, so who cares if one of them dies? You do not want to believe that? On earth, there live about 1016 ants, this is not even one millionth of the estimated number of planets, and do you care when an ant dies?

This reduces my influence dramatically, namely by 1024, together with the time influence, we have an impact in the dimension of 10-29, which is very less:


Just to get a better feeling of this number, if one would print the letter ‘A’ 1029 times next to each other in Times New Roman at font size 12, it would be about 1015 times the way to the sun and back. Light would take about 100,000 years to travel the document of A letters. Assuming further, that it takes one byte to store a character, the text file of As would be so big, that the whole storage available on the world would by far not be able to save this file, there is not even a name for this dimension, it ends with Yottabyte which is 1024.

Well, the result of asking myself what my influence to the overall existence is, is not very motivating, isn’t it? What do you think?

To all you theoretical physicist and computer storage experts out there: Please feel free to correct my numbers and calculations!

Some references: