Today is 27th January of 2007 of the common era (C.E.) calendar. The date is just a name, a nominal entity only. Different calendars give different names to the date. Even though it is just a name, it is still interesting to know names. Did you know that the epoch we live in is called Holocene?
The holocene–which means “recent”– is the name for the time span from less than 10,000 years to the present. Pretty much all of recorded human history falls in that period. The holocene epoch occurs in the quaternary period, which is part of the cenozoic era, which is part of the phanerozoic eon. Geologic time scales puts us in our place.
So there we are. On a tiny planet only 4.6 billion years old. It is hard to imagine such long time spans as we are creatures who live in what Richard Dawkins calls “middle world”–middle in terms of size, and middle in terms of the time scales we can intuitively handle. An analogy he uses (not his own) is that if the age of the earth were represented by the distance from the middle of your throat to the tip of your fingers of your outstretched arms, then the dinosaurs disappeared around the middle of your palm about 65 million years ago. And all of human history will be wiped out if you just take a nail file and take one swipe at your nails, because all of the holocene period would take up a very tiny fraction of a millimeter.
OK, this thought should give us pause whenever we start taking ourselves too seriously.