Daily Archives: March 5, 2014

Considering a Light Switch

A Light Switch

The other day, I was contemplating a light switch. It’s an ordinary thing: something we take for granted. We walk into a room, flip it, and the lights go on. We walk out of a room, flip it, and they go off.
Sometimes, we buy ones that look different or have colors to match our decor. Sometimes, when there are two switches to the same circuit, or multiple switches on a panel, we try to make them “match up.” Light switches are what many of us in the First and Second Worlds consider to be a basic necessity.
However, slightly more than 1 in 8 people worldwide lack electricity. The first electric switch was invented in 1884, while the first humans lived approximately 2.5 million years ago. Current estimates are that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, and the universe itself 13.8 billion years old. I read recently that if you reduced the history of the world to a day, the entirety of human history would be less than a minute after 11:59 PM. At the same ratio, the history of the electric light switch would be about .002 seconds of that final minute: an infinitessimal fraction of the total existence of the universe as we understand it, and even of human history.
Then think about how the existence of this universe is a literally nothing compared to sempiternity.  Kind of puts the things we consider “important” in perspective, doesn’t it?