The Library of the Infiniverse
Celebrating the unfathomable boundaries of experience and imagination
Spoiling the Party
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook:
“I take a lot of pictures that I really dig. I also see a lot of photos. I love in books and museums. It can feel overwhelming: ‘How many awesome photos can there BE in the world?’ I think the answer is: infinite. Just as there are infinite awesome moments and scenes in the world.”
That got me thinking…
Technically, a finite number of photos exist, suggesting a finite number of moments and scenes in the world.
Let’s deconstruct what a photo is made of, calculate how many unique ones can exist, and extrapolate what that means.
Pick any photo resolution you want, 10 megapixel to 10 gigapixel and higher, doesn’t matter.
Pick any pixel color capacity you want, 8 to 16 bit and higher, doesn’t matter.
Calculate the total number of possible photos, based on the straightforward math, which is this equation:
The factorial of the photo resolution (in megapixels) multiplied by the available colors (number of bits raised to the power of the 3 primaries).
For example, a 10 megapixel photo having 3 color pixels of 8 bits each would generate approximately (10,000,000 x 16,778,000)! photos.
To give you an idea how mindblowingly big that is, 100! is roughly a 9 with 157 zeroes after it. (By comparison, the total number of particles in the visible Universe is estimated at “only” a 10 with 80 zeroes after it.)
But here’s the really mindblowing part: that number is still finite. So finite, in fact, that it’s infinitesimally small compared to the infinite.
In summary, if you collected every possible digital photo into an album, that album would crowd out the entire volume of the Universe several times over, but would still be limited in overall size.
And since each photo, to Kim’s point above, captures a moment or a scene, by extension…