Computable Minds -
En español: El efecto 2038

The effect 2038

Posted on: Jan, 25th 2011
Apocalipsis 2038
A lot of programs wrote in C, Unix operating systems and others based in this, use a date format that consist in count the seconds that have passed from the midnight of the January 1, 1960, without counting leap seconds. This format is called POSIX and when arrives the moment 19/01/2038 03:14:07, the counter will show incorrectly the date 1901/12/13 20:46:52, causing errors in a lot of programs.

The POSIX date format, on one hand is quite good, because allows specify with only one number, any year, month, day, hour, minute and second but, on the other hand, have the problem of that we need a number more bigger to represent a moment of time more far. The way of store this number (32 bits with sign) allows arrive only to the second 2.147.483.647, that is the date 19/01/2038 03:14:07. When we arrive to the next second the number -2.147.483.648 is stored, that is the moment 1901/12/13 20:46:52. To solve it will use a lot of number of bits to store the value (64 bits with sign) that will allow store dates until the year 292.471.208.678, in that moment probably our universe will not exist, so the problem will be solved migrating to operating system of 64bits.

A lot of you remember the effect 2000, that didn't arrived to cause the end of the world as somebody predicted, but not because didn't was an error without importance, but because was planned the modification of all the software which depends human lives. Spite of this, occurred some inconvenient in some nuclear plants of Spain and Japan. In the same way, the 2038 effect also will be solved, a lot of time before of arrive to that date.

The 2000 effect consisted in that to save space in the dates, some programs stored only the last two digits of the year, causing that when it arrives to the year 2000 it turn back to the year 1900. In the same way that occurred with the effect 2000, with the effect 2038 will fail the programs that have to plan the departures and arrivals of planes or trains, manage the start of tasks, store information organized by date and discard old data.

In Windows NT also is used a similar date format that will fail in the year 2184, but this is an error without importance, because luckily Windows is not used for nothing that affect human lives and in that year Windows NT will be totally extinct.

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En español: El efecto 2038
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