Some time ago someone on FriendFeed asked if anybody (else) would celebrate their kid's 1000th day. Among the negative answers, someone remarked that they'd rather celebrate the 1024th. And as hardened computer geek, that was my first thought as well.

But why stop there? Or rather: if your baby is young, why start there?

So we started collecting the other power-of-two dates (power-of-two-versaries1?) for our baby, and after asking about a few from WolframAlpha, I set up to write a Ruby script to do the computations for me, and the first question that arose was: what's the highest (integer) power of two that should be considered?

Since the script wasn't ready yet, I asked WolframAlpha again, to quickly discover that the best we can do comes significantly short of 216 days, which is almost 180 years (179 years, 5 months, and a few days, with the actual number of days depending on how many leap years are covered by the timespan)2.

Now, as it happens, 16 bits is the (minimum) width of the short data type in the C family of programming languages; in fact, on most platforms and systems, 16 bits its exactly the width of the short data type.

As it turns out, our lives are indeed (unsigned) short.


  1. if anybody has a better name for them, please tell. ↩

  2. most modern-day human adults can aspire at hitting three power-of-two-versaries at best: 213 (22 years, 5 months, and the usual bunch of days) as a young adult, 214 (44 years, 10 months and a week, day more day less) and finally 215 (89 years, 8 months and a half), for the lucky ones. ↩