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  • Adam Behringer

    Seattle, Washington USA

    Adam is the founder of BEEDOCS, an artisan software company that makes great timeline software for Mac OS X.

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v3: Geological Time Scales

Monday, January 10, 2011

Button with image of a mountain, from Timeline 3DThanks to those of you who left a comment on my Guess the New Feature blog post with the mountain icon last week. There were some very creative guesses!

The new feature enabled by this button is one that many of our education customers have requested. We call it Geological Time Scales.

The current version of Timeline has a potential date range of 1,400,000 BC to 2,100,100 AD in one second increments. This is enough flexibility for most of you, but some customers want to chart longer time spans for the history of universe, dinosaurs, the collapse of our solar system, etc…

In version 3, you will be able to select "Geological Scale" when you create a new timeline. These timelines will support a range of approximately 9 quintillion BCE to 9 quintillion CE in year increments (a quintillion is a million trillions). Or said another way: 9,000,000,000,000,000,000 BCE to 9,000,000,000,000,000,000 CE. Those are some big numbers!

To help make sense of numbers that large, we built some new formatting options. For example, instead of listing a year as 1,234,000,000,000 you might choose to format it as 1,234 Billion or as 1.2 Trillion.

Options for formatting timelines with a geological scale

I am looking forward to seeing what new timelines that customers create with Geological Time Scales!

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Blogger blakeinlaJanuary 11, 2011 11:28 AM

This looks great. Is there a way of setting up a simple counting timeline? I use the software to chart film scenes and acts (usually 1-120 or so) and right now, I have to hide the dates because they don't make sense for me.

Thanks, Blake - Los Angeles

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 11, 2011 11:30 AM

Blake - Stay tuned to this blog! ;)

Blogger chipJanuary 21, 2011 6:52 AM

So, the universe is 13.7billion years old but most of the action happens within the first few minutes. Is there any prospect of a logarithmic scale so that we could represent cosmological events on a timeline?


Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 21, 2011 7:15 AM

Chip, thank you for your feedback. We do not have plans for logarithmic scales at this time, though I appreciate its potential usefulness for scientific applications in particular.

Blogger chipJanuary 22, 2011 11:24 AM

Yes. I could do neat things with that ability, both in classes and in my public talks...maybe even in professional talks and in stand-alone kiosks that sometimes scientists make.

With so little event-detail available for periods prior to about 2000 BCE there's really not much use for a linear scale, so this is really necessary in order to make use of your expanded dates. Even, say fossil estimated point-back origins would be un-usable in a linear scale if you're talking millennia between them.

Of course, when you go that far back, it would probably be necessary to not speak of a negative time BACKWARDS from an arbitrary zero, but the time SINCE an absolute zero. So, the introduction of logarithmic scales should be accompanied by the ability to count UP from some point in time. Like, SINCE the formation of the earth, SINCE the formation of the solar system, and of course, SINCE the big bang.

It's just arithmetic in principle, but I can imagine that it's a new set of switches for the user and hence a new set of headaches for the developer.

BUT...imagine what this could mean for teachers and what a splash it would make.

Blogger washingtonpondfrogFebruary 03, 2011 1:06 PM

I too need some non-linear x-axis options. If I put a date from 11,000 B.C. on the chart, but most of my dates are 1400 A.D. forward, all the latter dates are scrunched up at the end of the chart. There should be able to turn off the x-axis linear uniformity, so that events are evenly spread out. I think this is a HUGE limitation of Timeline 3D.

Blogger RodJuly 30, 2013 5:44 AM

Is there any way to import a Geologic Time Scale? Paleontologists often use other programs to catalog their specimens and this app would be great for visualizing their data if it could be imported. - Rod

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