October 04, 2010

Pierre Guldin's Libary.

In 1622 the mathematician Pierre Guldin designed maybe the longest list on earth: he estimates the number of words you could compose if you arrange the alphabet’s letters in all possible combinations - from two letter words to 23 letters. The mathematician did not care if those words make sense or not. It results in seventy-thousand billion billion words. But Pierre Guldin continued his calculation. He thought about writing down all words into notebooks, each one with thousand pages and hundred lines a page, sixty letters per line. Later, he designed the notebook’s library - a simple cube, side length 133 meter - which could house 32 million books each. To archive all the notebooks, 8 052 122 350 library buildings needed to be built. An impossible task: the earth space would provide space for just 7 757 213 799 libraries. Guldin, however, could not guess the invention of the internet. Virtual space vs. physical space.

(translation of a paragraph form the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nr.205, “Die Liste, die uns zeigt, wie sich die Welt verändert”, original stry from Umberto Eco,Vertigine della lista, 2009)