I still remember the old times. When the TVs used to be this giant heavy CRT boxes. Having a color TV was a luxury. Doordarshan was the only channel and I, for one, used to be fond of weather reports. Life was simple back then.

The other day, I bought myself a 4K Television. It is nothing like the one from the last century. Channels are replaced by apps. Cable charges are replaced by OTT subscriptions. The choice of content is endless. A lot of content – owing to not just its production value, but also its storytelling, is so good that it deserves to be seen. This is a real (first world) problem – What to see when the time is limited but content is not. The problem gets even bigger for some of us who speak multiple languages.

Anyways, I could not help but marvel at the beauty of what I was seeing on my new TV – A world at my fingertips in stunning resolution. And then I had an epiphany.

Warning: Some heavy math ahead

A Pixel Primer
A screen is made up of tiny points called pixel. A pixel could be further broken down into three basic components – each capable of showing a distinct primary color – red, blue and green at different intensity. This intensity can be represented by a number that could range from 0 to 255 – a total of 256 numbers. Which basically means that if the intensity is zero, the color would be non-existent in that pixel and if the intensity is 255, the color would be shown by the pixel at its highest. So this means that a single pixel could represent (256 × 256 × 256 =) 16777216 or 16 million distinct colors.

A Frame Primer
A frame or a still picture is basically when all the pixels light up with their color components to a varying degree, and what our eyes see in a “single” moment. A movie can quickly switch between 30 to 60 frames per second. That is what they mean when they say FPS (Frames Per Second). Higher the frame rate, smoother the movie quality.

What does the word “4K” means anyways?
A 4K TV generally have 3840 (almost 4000, hence 4K) horizontal and 2160 vertical pixels. Which means it would have (3840 × 2160 =) 8294400 or roughly 8 million pixels. Each pixel could represent 16 million colors and given the television has 8 million pixels, the total number of “frames” that the TV is capable of showing is (16 million × 8 million =) 128 Trillion.

So, what does it all mean?
If we could see all the frames that the TV can show, one after the other – in a quick succession – like a movie, a vast majority of frames would simply be noise or meaningless. But some frames would have meaning. Some would be our childhood memories, some would be our beautiful moments, some would be someone else’s past, some frames would represent our future (yes – it is possible to see our future this way). And at some point, the TV would run out of all the possible frames that could be shown (yes – all 128 Trillion of them). At that point, assuming the frames were traversed in a logical sequence,  we will have seen everything – Every movie ever made, every movie that will ever be made, every show, every possible past, every possible future. Now, granted, some of it would not make any sense to us, at least the things we cannot relate to yet. Regardless, our eyes will have seen quite literally EVERTHING in stunning picture quality.

The Big Question
So, the question is, what will be left to be seen after that? This idea of experiencing all the possibility of sight could also be extended to our other senses – smell, touch, taste, hearing and their higher order combinations. After we go through all of that – experience every possible thing, will we have any personal purpose left? Will there be any reason for us to be?


[Image Courtesy : Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash]





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