Max Roser

368 karmaJoined



I am sorry, but I don't know enough about working with an assistant to know in which cases a part-time arrangement might make sense. It is the first time that I will be working with an assistant. 

Thanks. Very good to hear!


Yes, the question about tracking funding is one that is on our list – it'd be so helpful to understand this. But building and maintaining this would be quite a major undertaking. To do it well we'd need someone who can dedicate a lot of time and energy to it. And we are still a very small team, so realistically we won't be able to do that in the next few years.

I was really struggling to find a way to make this work. I should have asked you earlier! Time could be a very nice way to illustrate that. 

It would also work nicely with the metaphor of the earlier illustration in the post, the hour glass.


But I'm not sure it works nicely when I put numbers on it:

1 year are (60*60*24*365)=31,536,000 seconds

The point estimate for this year's global population is 7,953,952,577

So if 1 person equals 1 second then today's world population would be 7,953,952,577 /31,536,000=252.2 years.

And 625 quadrillion seconds are 625,000,000,000,000,000/31,536,000= 19,818,619,989.9 years. Almost 20 billion years. Way older than the Universe.


The numbers are so large that it is hard to make it work, no?


Making the time unit smaller would be another way to make this work. 

Just for the sake of it: 

One second is equal to 1,000,000,000 nanoseconds. One billion people are represented by each tick of a second.

So  today's population are 7,953,952,577 /1,000,000,000=7.95 seconds.


1 year  are (1,000,000,000*60*60*24*365)=31,536,000,000,000,000 nanoseconds.

This means the future population is represented by 625,000,000,000,000,000/31,536,000,000,000,000=19.8 years

So, if we go with the 1 person = 1 nanosecond illustration then today's world population is represented by 8 seconds and this future population would in contrast be 19.8 years.

That feels definitely more intuitive than the 1person=1second illustration, but it has the downside that no one has an intution of nanoseconds I guess.



What do you think? I like your idea of using time, but I find it hard to imagine 20 billion years and I also find it hard to have an intuition of nanoseconds (but maybe 1 billion people=1 second works).


Thanks for the idea! I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but it was fun to explore these numbers in this way.

Do you have another creative idea for how we could make this illustration work?