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“Consider the earth's history as the old measure of the English yard, the distance from the king's nose to the tip of his outstretched hand. One stroke of a nail file on his middle finger erases human history,” John McPhee, Basin and Range.

There are others that are almost as enjoyable. I like this one from Mark Twain;

“Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is, I dunno. If the Eiffel Tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.”

An intellectual understanding of geologic time (or “deep time” as McPhee coined in Basin and Range) is not that demanding. We all know how many zeroes to place after 10 to make a billion. But to get into the inner-workings of a billion years is impossible. We understand “deep time” only as a metaphor.

There is the geological mile metaphor with humans representing the last few inches. Or the metaphor based on a twelve-month calendar with homo sapiens appearing just before Auld Lang Syne. The geographic metaphor, when a snail is placed at the South Pole during the Cambrian Period is allowed to advance toward the North Pole and arrives now at the end of the Quaternary. Since biblical times, and probably before, people have used metaphors (or parables) to convey a difficult message.

I have long been trying to come up with the perfect investing metaphor that conveys all that is involved. I continue to be stuck between a rock and a hard place (are all geology puns as bad?). Any thoughts???

Gary
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Gary (GabbyG) said: I have long been trying to come up with the perfect investing metaphor that conveys all that is involved. I continue to be stuck between a rock and a hard place (are all geology puns as bad?). Any thoughts???


Yes, all geology puns are that schisty. :p

To see one attempt at finding a geologic metaphor for investing, follow this link. It's a post I made in response to Tom Gardner's RM column on Wealth Building. Kinda started the whole "hmmm, how about a geology folder on TMF?" concretion rolling.
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1030004001897000

"Geologic time is not money." - Mark Twain
Sara

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Not completely irrelevant is this quote from Twain's "Life on the Mississippi":

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period,' just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual
board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."


I especially like the last two sentences. I used this quote in the introduction to my master's thesis in Geophysics. Fortunately my advisors had senses of humor.


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Welcome to the Geology board. There aren't many of us but we have a gneiss time (sorry, I think the geology pun is so stupid that it makes it funny).

The last two sentences are great. The last sentence pretty much sums up my entire Master's Thesis in a nutshell. In the fact that my advisor got "such wholesale returns" from me as her student.

Gary
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