Talk:Logarithmic timeline

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Old text[edit]

Err ... why this page? Charles Matthews 13:06, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

OK, content has now arrived. Would exponential timeline be a better title?

Charles Matthews 13:55, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It seems like this article should actually be logarithmic timeline. -- Decumanus 17:31, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Well, one can be a redirect. It's true that an exponential scale down one side of a graph is normally thought of as logarithmic graph paper (which, more importantly, shouldn't be a red link).

Charles Matthews 17:36, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

You mean line = ln time? May be. Kenny sh

Shouldn't "modern communications" or something like that be in the second section? Very important, I think. r3m0t 15:44, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)

What do you mean? Try to add. I'll review latter. Kenny sh —Preceding undated comment added 09:59, 28 March 2004 (UTC)


May be to unify Events and Inventions / Discoveries ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kenny sh (talkcontribs) 20:57, 11 July 2004 (UTC)

Moved to end of discussion. This has been proposed & discussed previously - read the comments.

The stated criterion - "as progress toward the current state of human civilization" - is inherently pov. As such it stimulates thought, whereas, a bland appearances vs dissapearances is Ho-hum. Extinction of the dinos was bad for them, but where would we be if it had not happened? So although my initial reaction a while back was similar to yours, now I'd have to disagree. Thinking is good for the brain :-) -Vsmith 13:02, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Better name for "Outside context problem"[edit]

User:MyRedDice deleted the "Outside context problem" column with the comment rm OCP - Iain Banks is not a scientist - out of place here.

This seems like a spurious criterion to me: after all, "robot" and "robotics" were coined by science fiction writers. But let's be generous and assume that MyRedDice meant something like "this term is not in widespread use in the scientific community and so not appropriate for an encyclopedia". But that doesn't mean that the material in the column is wrong, perhaps just that the header could be improved.

So what would be a better column heading? Gdr 15:58, 2004 Jul 16 (UTC)

I don't think OCP (with the Banks meaning) is an appropriate term for what is listed in that column. It's meant to be something so totally beyond present experience that civilisation is unable to cope. So famine in the 11th century isn't an OCP, because everybody knew about famine. A better term might be "crises", or "potential crises". Roget suggests words like "danger", "critical time", "emergency", and "difficulty", among others. --AlexG 21:41, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The 9/11/2001 disaster in the U.S. POV was an OCP because it lay beyond the imagination of those in power. "failure to connect the dots". Ancheta Wis 01:37, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC) In that case the difficulty was in the lack of imagination, or in excess complacency; hence an OCP in the Banks meaning.
No, 9/11 did not have enough impact to be classed as an OCP. An outside context problem fatally undermines the basic assumptions of a civilisation - like the example of the island whose inhabitants believe it to be the only place in the world, their society being shaken by the arrival of technologically advanced outsiders revealing it to be just one of many, comparatively minor, islands. The discovery of the stars in Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is similar. In Iain Banks' Excession, the appearance of the big black sphere is an OCP because it demonstrates that it is possible to travel to infinitely many nested universes (meaning that existence is no longer limited by the Big Crunch) and that there are civilisations vastly more powerful than the Culture. It could also be considered OCP because the Culture's reaction to it reveals that they are not as serene and democratic as they hold themselves to be. In any case, what should the column heading be? Any advance on "Crises"? --AlexG 18:19, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The column could be the negative of Inventions/Discoveries (in the progressive sense) so that the sum of the Inventions - the sum of the 'crises' = net progress of civilization. Hopefully not not negative and not zero. If always zero, then there is some kind of conservation law in play. Ancheta Wis 21:49, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I like this idea; for the titles, how about "progress" or "development" as set against "regression"? These are also general enough to allow a wider range of information to be put in the table. --AlexG 23:57, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Sounds good. Ancheta Wis 00:16, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I have done the deed. --AlexG 20:58, 23 Jul 2004 (UTC)


James Joyce was "not a scientist". Does that mean we should delete the quark from Wikipedia and (while we're at it) from particle physics?

chocolateboy 21:32, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Good things v. bad things[edit]

I vote for merging the "progress" and "regression" columns into one "major events" column. Although some of the judgements might be obvious, others are just a matter of opinion. For example, to classify mass extinctions in the "bad" column is pure speculation - who knows whether the present world would be better or worse if they had not happened? A nasty species that was even more destructive than mankind might have gained dominance and blown the planet to bits. On the "good" side, we might think that nanotechnology is cool today, but in a few centuries it might (and this is just a wild guess) be viewed in the way that we now think of 20th-century eugenics and racial theory, or nuclear weapons. --Heron 13:37, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

In other words, the Neandertal extinction is not a 'bad thing', but a step toward 'civilization'. There is a value in separating events. The continued destruction of the ecosystems which support the species of the earth, other than human, is a 'bad thing'. This is a categorical statement. Ancheta Wis 14:07, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Looking at it another way, we need to define what ultimate goal or direction we are using to judge "progress" and "regression". I suspect this will be quite difficult. Is the survival of mankind, or the health of the planet, or maybe a comfortable afterlife for religious believers, the ultimate goal? It depends on your POV. --Heron 16:28, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
When Watt re-designed the Steam engine, he didn't just dump the cold water from the mines back onto the boiler, which was the previous design. He separated the cold from the hot water. This was later formalized in the Carnot cycle. We can't just dump any old event into the pot, Progress becomes impossible if we live without understanding which factors are productive, which factors are counter-productive. If we attach a label to an event, it can then be viewed retrospectively, re-examined, and debugged in light of an overall process. Ancheta Wis 16:47, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

OK. I agree that your definition of progress has a valid basis, and I agree that we should take advantage of hindsight. I am just making the points that (a) some people might classify events differently than you (they might not even think that "progress" is a good thing, or they might think that all nonhuman species are worthless except as food, although these points of view are probably rare amongst Wikipedians), and (b) whatever definition we use, it should be stated. --Heron 17:33, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

progress and regression are problematic here - very POV dependent. I would vote for elimination and combination into a more neutral Major Events. As an example, I've moved religion and majic to regression. Does that bother anyone? ;)
-Vsmith 0☺0:24, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
No problem here, when your action is viewed as a step to greater understanding, per the scientific method. The labels are like + and - charges for electricity. Is it POV to favor electrons? When we fail to distinguish basics, we fail to progress to electronics. Its like personal hygiene, like separating closets from garbage bins. Ancheta Wis 12:58, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC) -- upon review, I see that I need to add more explanation here: your action actually reinforces the statement of the Category:The Enlightenment movement to lessen the effect of kinship groups on governance. That is a good thing. It was the philosophical basis of the Bill of Rights First Amendment, which historically was the ideological basis for the British colonization of the Americas. Again, no problem here. Obviously, if you reversed your action, which you are free to do, I might have other comments.
Thanks. Different reaction than I expected, gives me a different way of viewing it. Is religion now in the garbage bin - hmm... Anyway I have no plan to revert (although I'm tempted, just to see your other comments). If the progress - regress dichotomy remains, I would be inclined to include religion in both. -Vsmith 21:40, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Um...I find it unrealistic and unfair to put religion in basically, what you're saying is that people who are religious are causing the Human population to regress? I completely agree with the idea of just a single "major events" section.
No offense meant. This is a problem with the kinship group, which is basically the cause of a fallacy: "The enemy of my brother is my enemy." Anyone who believes that will commit heinous acts in the name of kinship. Just because Jeffrey Dahmer was religion X, does not mean that all peoples who are persuaded of religion X are bad. Ancheta Wis 12:11, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
More wars are fought over religion and politics, and even worse, the conflation of religion and politics, than any other cause in today's world. There is clearly something wrong with the current implementations of religion. It was a religious mob that destroyed the library at Alexandria. Ancheta Wis 11:45, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Other editors have proposed putting religion in both columns, which simply points out that there are unresolved factors in the religious impulse, and the human condition in general which leads to progress on one side, and to regression on the other. The key is to pinpoint which factors are harmful, and which are not. In the Bible, for example, it clearly documents that the Jews were not given the 10 commandments while in Egypt so ... Ancheta Wis 11:58, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Jimbo's statement of WikiLove is in order here. If some element of an edit is causing distress, then we need to pinpoint what that is. Does anyone disagree that strict obedience to 613 commandments does not solve the march toward civilization? It is acceptable for an individual to obey 613 commandments. It is clearly unacceptable for an individual to force the entire world to obey 613 commandments and to punish the unbelievers. That is totalitarian dictatorship. In the name of a religion. Ancheta Wis 13:19, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think I have the concept: The regression, more precisely, is the hijacking of political control over a kinship group in the name of a religion. In other words, the regression is a form of demagoguery. I propose replacing the word religion in the regression column with the word demagoguery Ancheta Wis 14:34, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Does anyone have any problem with my including the emergence of the human condition as an event? Some other items, such as the emergence of maternal love, compassion and the differentiation between vice and virtue? I truly believe these facets are part of civilization Ancheta Wis 18:11, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
OK, but --- how do you define human condition (that article is a bit ill defined.) and what evidence do you have for an emergence? Agreed that these are most important parts of civilization. Question is, when did they start? Maternal love is not restricted to humans - when did it originate? Don't think we know. -Vsmith 00:08, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
We have some clues: the alligator and other crocodilians carry around their eggs in their mouths (without eating them), when they need to move them. Birds will mimic distress, sometimes limping away, to lure away intruders, when intruders get too near to their nests. Binti jua the mother gorilla protected the young boy who fell into her cage. Men will generally ignore the cries of a baby, but women will generally respond to the cry of a baby. Mammal mothers have a hormone response which quiets them when they are breastfeeding their babies. All of this points out to the emergence of maternal love perhaps 100 million years ago. Clearly by the time of emergence of mammals, say 60-100 million years ago. Ancheta Wis 05:47, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
With mammals in Tertiary or crocs & Dinos. in Paleozoic-Mesozoic? I can agree with that. Now, about the differentiation between vice and virtue. How do you define this and when did it all start? -Vsmith 15:34, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It is interesting that the human condition requires introspection and reflection; thus a mature human can be expected to know limitations, and that teenagers, typically feel immortal (i.e., they don't do too much introspection and reflection). Perhaps we can project that the emergence of introspection and reflection are approximately coeval with the emergence of art, magic and religion. I realize that there are some missing pieces here. When did this condition become common to all humans? Perhaps language plays a part? Certainly experience and the custom of respecting elders? In that case, we can date that with the people of New Guinea, who still respect the elders. They arrived about 45,000 BC. Of course, they were still headhunters then. But then the definition of vice and virtue is certainly culture-bound. The Romans still practiced slow poisoning, for example. (That was in Selected Anniversaries for Agrippina) In that case, the question is universal definition of vice and virtue, and we are not there yet, with all the beheadings that are still going on. Ancheta Wis 16:55, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Here is a possible proxy concept for emergence of the differentiation of vice and virtue: the emergence of the taboo. I know that the Australian aborigines and the peoples of Southeast Asia and the Polynesians definitely observed taboos. So the date of arrival of the Aborigines to Australia would date the taboo. Ancheta Wis 17:14, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Paleolithic belongs with Pleistocene, and holocene started (not ended - it's the current period) 10k years ago --Random|832 18:44, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Fixed that problem, I think :-) -Vsmith 15:36, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Progress & Regression[edit]

Let's rename Progress & Regression to some more NPOV like Appearance and Disappearance. And move all distinctions, end of dynasties, empires, Troy to Disappearance column. Conan 11:01, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Appearance and Disappearance[edit]

Let's vote to rename to Appearance and Disappearance. Conan 13:03, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Whatever the names are, we need to avoid the Doctor Panglossian This is the best of all possible worlds. There needs to be a critical division between the facets which the timeline is cataloging. The Enlightenment posited a sense that natural law was the expression of the Creator; this viewpoint, which is embodied in the institutions of the U.S. has held up for over two centuries. Appearance, as in appearance of the mammals did not have much effect until disappearance of the dinosaurs. Thus if the names become Appearance and Disappearance, then whenever some trend appears, like a new species, if we at the same time, list the ending or failure of some other trend, like the extinction of a species, then this would allow the tracking of a new trend. As an example,
Appearance of industrialization in mass society needs to be coupled with Systematic overfishing in the negative column, which then allows a rational examination of the costs of industrialization, and which then provides the rationale for the next consequence, which is Decrease in growth rate of human society, and eventual stability of size of human society. See what I mean? If we can put down On the one hand and also On the other hand, then we can document the basis for past, current and even future events in the timeline. Shades of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series! I believe this is a proper function for the Wikipedia. Ancheta Wis 15:13, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Re-reading the associated articles, I see that two centuries for natural law is an understatement, and may even have been eight centuries, since 1215, which is well before the establishment of the U.S., of course. Ancheta Wis 15:32, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Let's not rename or vote until you read the previous dicussions and clarify your proposal with some detailed reasoning and consideration of the results. Are you Conan the Destroyer or Conan the Builder :-) -Vsmith 15:27, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am Conan hacker :), BTW, I've founded this page under name Kenny. Thanks for participation :) I've read sometimes all discussion. Conan 20:54, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

102/3 scale[edit]

Surely it would be more intuitive and convenient to use a scale based on powers of five in the second chart? 102/3 is, after all, about 4.6. --[[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 20:06, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Reverting massive and questionable rewrite[edit]

I don't think that a massive rewrite which was disguised as a dozen minor edits was fair play. This talk page is here for discussion - if you think a total rewrite is needed then discuss here first. -Vsmith 00:17, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It isn't necessary to cast the revisions as a "disguise". I made one non-minor edit and a series of very small adjustments. The tables suffer from a layout problem that goes beyond terming events "progress" or "regression"; long lists forced into small boxes are unsightly and difficult to read.
At a glance, there are a number of oddities and glaring omissions: the pyramids and the ice age are somehow progress; the most important invention of the second millenium is missing (gunpowder); the great depression is overlooked; real nanotechnology (not just very small toys) is alleged to exist; and the selection of events displays some kind of weird Western quasi-Judeoatheist bias. History can be presented more professionally.
Additionally, the introduction is less formal than it should be and isn't very accurate of the current article (for example, neither chart has fit on a page in months). It also seems to have developed something like feature creep — there's no need to define period or event, nor for pedantic reminders that any interpretation will be subjective and arbitrary to some degree. [[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 01:04, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
OK - I apologise for the "disguise" comment, just my initial irritation in control. However, a discussion is warranted before such a complete rewrite. Your formatting is easier to read, but the content changes are in question. I'm not sure about the need for undue "formality" in the intro and am not sure just what "pedantic reminders" are, the focus as defined was toward human civilization (that was added because of some apparant unfocused "feature creep"). The old table does come close to fitting a page depending on the screen resolution and font size.
Your comment some kind of weird Western quasi-Judeoatheist bias was amusing, how do you define your bias? Any such list as this cannot help but be biased and POV to a degree and am not sure that this is intended to be a professional historical summary, more a thought provoking list.
There are always going to be glaring omissions and oddities: it cannot be a comprehensive listing. For one example, the ice ages may well have provided the stress which lead to the evolution of the sapiens brain. And, maybe it's just my ...athiest bias :-) , but there is reason to put religion in both positive and negative columns.
It may be that most will prefer your version, but I wanted a discussion in light of the previous comments on this page. That's it for now... -Vsmith 02:56, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm concerned that too much interest is given to speculation, especially in trying to discredit magic and religion, which is just demagogy of a different sort, really. The ice age might have had a direct positive effect, but how are we to know whether it did? We've only had one ice age, and it ended before recorded history. Similarly, different approaches to religion might have been more beneficial if they had been popular, but we can't say with certainty that religion didn't get us where we are today. We're lacking any sort of verifiability.
We can, however, say that some things were necessary to modern civilization, while some events were almost unequivocally bad. The world we live in is the product of many different advances in technology, and a good timeline should highlight the advances that proved most important. It isn't POV to say progress was gained in some areas and lost in others — this is clearly a timeline of human civilization; dolphins might find these tables silly, but we aren't writing for them.
The tables seem to be written for a specific segment of humanity, which is worrying. From what was included (or left out), our audience seems to be somebody living along the Mediterranean Sea with strong tendencies for atheism and pacifism. They seem to have a certain affectation for Jewish settlements, which they've somehow reconciled with the Pyramids being progress and the slavery happening at about the same time being regression. They've heard of a place called America, but they don't pay attention to anything that happens there (nor to anything else outside of Europe apart from the Red Sea area).
In my opinion, it would be more helpful to categorize events by crises, religion, science, and technology, but I'm at a loss for how those might be incorporated into the table without making it excessively wide. Maybe the tables should be abandoned altogether. [[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 17:25, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Total rewrite of this page is needed. Progress and regression introduces POV and should go. I'd rather see an article broken into paragraphs than a table. Equoor's version was better, but I'd go further. But these changes should have been more transparently major; better use of the preview button I think! Zeimusu 01:29, 2004 Dec 20 (UTC)
In defense of the Progress and Regression columns, here is an example which is nonthreatening but which illustrates the usage:
Date Progress Regression
105AD Cài Lún invents paper . Paper litter started at the same time
Ancheta Wis 02:31, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Guidelines for Logarithmic timeline[edit]

  1. Keep the page length about one screen. Readers should see logarithmic timescale clearly.
  2. Write only most important info in each row.
  3. All other events could be in periodical subpages.
Well, which is more important — history or the logarithmic scale? I don't think it's helpful to arbitrarily limit the table to one page, especially since there is likely to be some disagreement about what should be included. Timeline of invention does well enough without subpages, and it's like 20 pages long. [[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 17:25, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I've originated this table to be first of all observable. Observability is much more important than comprehensiveness. There a lot of very detailed and long timelines. See Category:Timelines, Timeline of evolution, Geologic timescale, List of themed timelines. If you like very long lists, please contribute there. Conan 18:22, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Doubts about the page[edit]

  1. Progress and Regression is NPOV violation and maker harder to read.

(Conan 09:56, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC))

Where is Jesus?[edit]

I can't find him on here. Also, the progress and regression lists were severely POV. Just list major events (like Jesus's birth, fer crissakes!) and be done w it. Also I prefer eequor's change to the second timeline, the old version was too weird, mathwise. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam]] Spade wishes you a merry Christmas! 11:35, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I thought eequor had gotten rid of the 2/3rds logarithim in favor of another? Apparently not? I'm confused. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam]] Spade wishes you a merry Christmas! 11:41, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It was tempting, but that's a much larger change than just reformatting the table (which is a horrid mess anyway). I'm also not certain whether a base 4 or base 5 scale would be better. The table will need a lot of work.
My feeling about Jesus is that including him would place the tables on a particularly awkward slippery slope — perhaps other religious leaders deserve a mention too, or their religions, or even non-religious figures. Aristotle may have had a larger influence on history than anyone else; he must certainly be added if other people are. [[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 17:25, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Aristotle? Its clear to me that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Einstein, Newton, Hitler, etc... outdo aristotle. Why is aristotle important other than records of him accidentilly having survived? I know alot of people find the Ancient Greeks mind-blowingly signifigant in general, but can't we at least focus on ones who made a substantial contribution, like say.. Hero of Alexandria? :) [[User:Sam Spade|Sam]] Spade wishes you a merry Christmas! 18:04, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It's interesting to note that 2000 years after Aristotle, the Catholic Church was still persecuting and killing people for disagreeing with him. In contrast, the Church has had an abominable history of mostly ignoring everything Jesus said (particularly in its disregard for human life), though it's been getting better recently.
Exactly which of the ancient Greeks affected civilization the most is something of a toss-up; a lot could be said for Plato or Pythagoras as well. Aristotle, though, studied nearly every field of science and philosophy, and his ideas formed the basis of the scientific method — which is accepted by all scientists regardless of their religious background. Aristotle and alchemy are at least partly responsible for every technological advancement in the Common Era. --[[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 20:00, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, it seems to me, the table is too small to including peoples here, and this is NPOV violation. Conan 18:11, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Regression is the POV violation, and not including people like Jesus is extremely POV. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam]] Spade wishes you a merry Christmas! 13:05, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

New version[edit]

I've created Logarithmic timeline/New version which takes into account many of the criticisms discussed above. I've written a new introduction which discusses by whom and why this was proposed. I've also attempted to NPOV the table by merging the seriously POV Progress and Regression columns into a single Events column and I've deleted a few of the events. I've also deleted the second table, as that seemed to be original research, and not very usable as a timeline. I hope that people think this is an improvement and can replace the current version (obviously with modifications where necessary). --G Rutter 22:04, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The flow of the events in a single row, currently reads like Progress on the left, and Regression on the right, which is acceptable for an on the one hand ..., and on the other hand ... set of events. Would that be acceptable to everyone? It would represent more of a continuum than a good vs bad. OK with everyone? i.e., this is acceptable to me. Ancheta Wis 23:36, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Or we may choose alphabetic or chronological order for events. BTW, pay attention, that good and bad are NPOV violation and not a main idea of the Logarithmic timeline. Conan 12:28, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, look good. Conan (15:49, 10 Jan 2005)

The New version is quite possibly more problematic with regard to NPOV problems. It is quite impossible to not have a bias when creating a limited or selective list of important events. The list is POV for what is included and what is not -- who decides and what is their POV? The current version at least states up front This is an arbitrary listing as progress toward the current state of human civilization is the apparent selection criterion; as such it is a thought provocative rather than a bland listing. Sure is it going to be biased by the writers and their background - everything is. Quite impossible to do this without being a bit POV - better than a dead listing of everything that ever happened all lumped together and dull. Vsmith 20:33, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree that the New version is still POV with regard to its selection of events, especially for the last three lines, but as Conan says dividing the events into Progress and Regression is not the main point of the Logarithmic timeline. The main point of the timeline is to enable an approximately equal distribution of important events in a single dated diagram.
Would the addition of the following sentence (or equivalent) be an acceptable compromise:
"This is a somewhat arbitary selection of events, selected as those that appear to be most influential to human society in the early 21st century."
That probably needs some work, but hopefully this address part of your problem. As for your other points, I think that the other version is inherently very POV, and appears to be original research. The selection of events should be there to illustrate the concept of the Logarithmic timeline- that's meant to be the thought-provoking bit, not the events themselves. --G Rutter 13:46, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Logarithmic index to Wikipedia?[edit]

I spent months on this 1000-line logarithmic timeline:

I propose redoing it as a (partial) index to Wikipedia, if anyone wants to help.

(maybe break it into ten 100-line pieces?) --robotwisdom 16:08, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The 'NOW' date could be set as 10 January, 2001, which was the launch of Wikipedia.

I limited myself to one 80-character line per entry, but we could open things up so every relevant article gets a link. --robotwisdom 16:32, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

In fact, it might be handy to do it to base 'e' and allow 2000 lines, because events get pretty thick in certain places-- Greece and Rome, the Sixties. --robotwisdom 16:35, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've started an experimental implementation of one 100-line page covering 1000AD to 1901AD: E3e2 --robotwisdom 17:03, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Converting it is trivially easy-- I put square brackets around each individual, and so far only 10% of them have even needed tweaking! --robotwisdom 17:10, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"Thousands groups coloured"[edit]

I've reverted an edit which in the edit summary said it coloured the thousand groups (the 10k-100k, the 100k-1M, the 1M-10M and the 1B-14B) as I was not at all clear what this was meant to show. Weirdly, it now appears to have vanished from the revision history (how did that happen?) so I can't remember who did it or their exact explanation. Anyway, it needed some form of explanation both on the talk page first and then on the article page if agreed. --G Rutter 16:03, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Be bold!
I think you're misunderstanding Wikipedia policy. I have not heard of a policy that requires an explanation asking on the talk page before making a layout improvement. In the contrary, we are clearly encouraged to be bold in improving articles. If you are aware of a policy that states, as you say, that changes like this need some form of explanation on the talk page first, and then agreement, please provide a link to it.
Even if there is such a policy, you did not stick to it yourself. You reverted the page half an hour before you talked about it. Moreover, you are not giving any reason why you think the page is better after your edit. It seems you are applying double standards.
For now, I will revert your change. This will people give the chance to look at it and decide which version they prefer. (People know what a table without coloring looks like). If it turns out that a majority prefers it without coloring, we can certainly revert it.
I see the following advantages in coloring it:
  • It is a common practice in tables to color groups of 1, 2 or 3 rows in alternating colors to make them easier to read.
  • The group size of 3 rows maps nicely to the English words like "thousands" or "millions".
  • Color is a proven help in memorization.
  • It just looks nicer.
Sebastian 06:27, 2005 Mar 27 (UTC)

IMHO, Colors are redundant. Conan

The half hour gap was due to Wikipedia refusing to save my comment on this page the first four times I tried. I don't think it looks nicer and I fail to see why you'd want to memorise this table. I think it makes the table more confusing- I couldn't work out the logic behind why some rows were coloured and some weren't. As it's a fairly small table, if you think it needs making easier to read, what do people think about colouring every other line? (And I'd prefer not in that particular shade of yellow!) --G Rutter 18:32, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Conan 10:13, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"Longer version"[edit]

I've reverted the longer version of the logarithmic timeline as original research, which isn't allowed in Wikipedia. The "short version" is an example of a logarithmic timeline of the sort envisaged by Heinz von Foerster and is there to illustrate his point on how such a timeline could work. There's lots of different sorts of logarithmic timelines that could be created, but unless they've actually been used by someone in a published work (or equivalent) I'm afraid that we can't include them in this article. --G Rutter 15:03, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The problem arises when you try to choose the most significant events, which requires opinion. A workaround might be to sort *all* Wikipedia articles into the relevant section, but then you'd need to expand it at least 100:1, and maybe more. (See my test at E3e2. --robotwisdom 16:00, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, that is the fundamental problem- and like you say it would be possible to produce a "logarithmic index" of Wikipedia - and there's List of themed timelines as well. But, this page is meant to illustrate Heinz von Foerster's point. I think it's got most of the broad themes represented - what other themes (rather than specific events) do you think should be included? --G Rutter 19:35, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I was flabbergasted (and flattered!) to read that my table was "original research"!! It's not research at all! Nor is it new. I bought something similar back in the 1960's at a museum, done by John B. Sparks back in 1932!
The reason I made this table is simply that I think there should be a place in Wikipedia where one can see a logarithmic timeline going from the Big Bang till a few years ago, giving a fairly decent summary of the main events. There are other timelines on evolution or the universe, but they are either not logarithmic or not general enough (evolution plus geology plus history).
The idea is to have a timeline one can consult, and add things to.
I don't think this article should be limited to "illustrating Heinz von Foerster's point". I never heard of him. If Wikipedia can have other useful timelines, why not one that is logarithmic and general? If you can think of a better name to call it, tell us, but I think "logarithmic timeline" is a good name.
By the way, looking back at the history, I see that there used to be a very nice timeline, as I would like. (The one thing I don't like about it is the funny 10^(2/3) scale. I think the scale I used is better. And don't worry, the scale I used is not original!) The person who got rid of it, Conan, says he moved it to Detailed logarithmic timeline, but that link doesn't exist! What happened to it?
I don't think that the fact that the timeline I envisage would not contain every possible link is a reason not to do it. I think Robotwisdom's E3e2 is nice, but maybe even too exhaustive. If we want, we can put in links to millennia or centuries where things would be covered in more detail.
I realize that choosing what events to put in is a matter of opinion. But I don't think that goes agains the policy of Wikipedia. We would not be saying explicitly, "The most important event in this period is ...", which of course would be non-neutral. Every article in Wikipedia expresses the opinions of the authors as to what is important! That is unavoidable.
EricK 16:01, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)
As a compromise, I propose someone create a separate page for the expanded version. (I think when you try filling it in, you'll realise how subjective it is, but I don't want to discourage your experiment.) It could always be hosted on someone's personal site...? --robotwisdom 16:55, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Reverse direction???[edit]

What would a reverse-direction log timeline look like?

  • ...
  • 1st three minutes
  • 1st 30 minutes
  • 1st 5hrs
  • 1st 2 days
  • 1st 20 days
  • 1st 200 days
  • 1st 6 years
  • 1st 60 years
  • 1st 600 years
  • 6000
  • 60,000
  • 600,000
  • 6M
  • 60M
  • 600M
  • 6B
  • present

It seems possible but unenlightening.--robotwisdom 1 July 2005 11:46 (UTC)

I decided to give it a shot, using Timeline of the Big Bang. Not sure if it works or not.--robotwisdom 2 July 2005 00:18 (UTC)

I'm not sure that it adds much to the article- though it might be worth moving to the Timeline of the Big Bang article itself- it might be useful there. --G Rutter 2 July 2005 13:47 (UTC)
The more I think about it the more I like it-- and since there's only two basic plans possible (regular and inverse) I think they should both be included. I was worried that it wouldn't be interesting because most of the segments would be empty, but it turns out to be interesting in a completely different way. --robotwisdom 2 July 2005 14:27 (UTC)


I don't really think the current emphasis is right. The singularity business is secondary, and that graph isn't really a logarithmic timeline, imho. I only see two natural forms of log timeline-- the 'inverse' where the pov is from the big bang forward, and the usual where the pov is from the human ego backward. If a singularity occurs, it will screw things up because the log sequence will change after the singularity. --robotwisdom 11:16, 28 July 2005 (UTC)


Digg linked this future-timeline this morning-- can we use it to rough out a log timeline that starts now and looks forward?

I think it's impossible to choose the right scaling-factor until you know how dense the events are, eg:

  • next ten years
  • next 1,000 yrs
  • next 100,000 yrs
  • next 10M yrs
  • next 1B yrs
  • next 100B yrs? --robotwisdom 13:22, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Event ideas: Sun expands; Viking (et al) reach galactic milestones; "I Love Lucy" reaches other galaxies? --robotwisdom 13:28, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Ultimate fate of the universe --robotwisdom 14:18, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Automatic updating of the past few days row?[edit]

Just wondered, if there is any kind of template that can automatically extract from the current events portals e.g. the first news story, and place it in the first row, last column box of the looking backwards table? --gejyspa (talk) 14:42, 6 January 2015 (UTC)