Sharp eyed Facebook users noticed something interesting this morning. They’re being congratulated for 46 years of friendship with some people…
As it turns out, this is easily explained by pointing to Epoch time. This is the way UNIX systems keep time, and it’s based on the amount of time elapsed from January 1, 1970.
Facebook uses UNIX in most of their systems and whatever the bug is, it’s showing 46 years because that’s the amount of time that has elapsed from January 1, 1970 until today. What the actual bug is has not been determined yet, but with 46 years being the constant — it points to a UNIX time error.
What many people don’t know is that UNIX time is holding a bug that will make Y2k look like a sneeze.
On February 7, 2016, 32-bit UNIX systems will reach the maximum number of digits they can use for UNIX time. This will cause those systems to roll over and begin displaying the date as January 1970. There’s not any known fix for this, since it’s deep within the basics of the UNIX code.
January 19, 2038 is the big problem. It’s actually referred to as the Year 2038 Problem. On this date, all UNIX systems will cease to function, as they will run out of digits to record time.
Currently, there is absolutely no known solution for this. Other than completely rewriting UNIX time, there’s no way to fix this. Come 2038, most computers — even Macintosh — will completely cease to function.
If you needed a reason for your kids to study Computer Science — you just found it.