Portable general timestamp format, not 2038-limited

Ilya Zakharevich nospam-abuse at ilyaz.org
Tue Jul 10 22:59:56 CEST 2007

[A complimentary Cc of this posting was sent to
<greg at cosc.canterbury.ac.nz>], who wrote in article <5fh0imF3cjte7U1 at mid.individual.net>:
> Ilya Zakharevich wrote:
> > In pedantic mode: negative timestamps make sense with Big Bang as the
> > epoch as well.  (AFAIU, the current way of thinking is that it was
> > "just too hot" before the big bang, it is not that "there was
> > nothing".)
> If Stephen Hawking is right, the shape of the universe
> is such that there isn't any time "before" the big bang
> at all. It's like asking what's north of the North Pole.

I do not remember any statement like this - even from 70s...  Could
you provide a reference?  There were conjectures about "initial
singularity", but I do not recollect them related to SH.

> Of course, this may have been replaced with some other
> equally bizarre idea by now...

Nothing as bizzare as the "initial singularity".  There was a hot soup
not very far from a phase transition point; stochastically, some
micro-regions (bubbles) cool a little bit, and are subject to a phase
transition; due to transition, the metric in them grows (inflation),
so the "size" after transition [as seen from inside] is (hundreds?
thousands? millions? - I do not remember) orders of magnitude larger
than before transition - you get the universe-as-we-know-it as what sits
inside a "visible horizon" in such a babble.  Wiki for "inflation".

> Another thought: If the cosmologists ever decide if
> and when the Big Crunch is going to happen, we may be
> able to figure out once and for all how many bits we
> need in the timestamp.

In the "hot soup", it is very hard to construct a watch.  There may be
even some quantum-mechanical restrictions on bit storage in so hot a
matter (but I do not recollect seeing this).  If so, then indeed,
"nothing measurable" happens before and after inflation/collapse of
the universe-as-we-know-it; so timestamp would be restricted to the
interval between the bangs.

Hope this helps,

More information about the Python-list mailing list