The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

5:55pm on Sunday, 6th March, 2005:

Image Count


OK, that's it. I've heard that claim of the Vision Express commercial one time too many. During our lifetimes, our eyes process 24,000,000 images, do they?

Let's say people live for 70 years of 365.25 days, and they sleep for a third of that time. This gives us 17,045 days' worth of images. 24 hours, 60 minutes per hour, that gives us 24,544,800 minutes. In other words, for Vision Express's claim to be true, our eyes process roughly one image per minute.

Uh? Just one image per minute? How do they figure that out? If human eyes are only capable of processing one image per minute, why do movies run at 24 frames per second?

Well, maybe they didn't figure it out. Maybe they wanted to know how many images the human eye can process in a lifetime, hit the search engines, and found some school project that made the claim. Surely not?!

A little investigation seems to indicate that the source of the claim is Cool Nurse. Where they got it from, I've no idea. The same site says that eyes "can process 36,000 bits of information every hour", which is 10 "bits of information" per second. I guess that would mean 600 "bits of information" are needed for an image.

Let's assume that figure of "36,000 bits of information per hour" means 10 images per second. Ignoring sleep, at this rate the eye would take just about 4 weeks to clock up 24,000,000 images. Over the course of a lifetime, it would take 10*60*60*24*365.25*70 images. This comes to 22,090,320,000. If you define "a lifetime" to be 76 years, it comes to just about 24,000,000,000 images.

So is that what's happened? Someone creating a web site for American teenagers misread "24 billion" as "24 million" and was insufficiently numerate for any alarm bells to ring?

Ironically, if Vision Express had looked into this a bit more, their advertisement might actually have been impressive. As it is, one image per minute? Yawn.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).