There are two strange twitter accounts called @googuns_staging and @googuns_prod. Both accounts were created on the same day, 7/28/2009. Both accounts tweet every 5 minutes and there has been much speculation on what the tweets indicate. Some of the ideas include:
- WEP keys for a Russian router.
- Except that it would be impossible to get any work done. Plus why use twitter for this?
- Software keys.
- Except that the majority of the digits (10) are the same for each tweet.
- A modern day numbers station.
- I can accept this one, but it's hard to imagine a cold-war relic operating on social media.
After giving some thought to the tweets, I was reminded of the countdown sequence being broadcast via television networks in the movie Independence day released back in 1996. In the movie, David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum) came to the realization that the broadcast was a countdown and a world wide alien attack would commence at the conclusion of the countdown which happened to be July 4th, hence the title of the movie. Could the googuns tweets be a count down too?
If I completely ignore the last 10 digits of each post found on the googuns accounts, (currently "9d49000000"), then what I have left is a 6 digit value at the beginning of each post. Since the common value is present in a large group of tweets I can easily dismiss it to focus on the hex value. That leaves us with a value of 6 digits, each of which could represent a hexadecimal value. I'm not the only one to spot the hexadecimal values at googuns but to the best of my knowledge I don't think anyone has speculated beyond this point.
I quickly came to realize that every value I tested was a value that represented a hexadecimal color. For example #ffffff represents white, #000000 represents black. Three recent (as of this writing) tweets for Googuns_Staging includes:
5a62ae 9d49000000 (Dark moderate blue)
5b85f1 9d49000000 (Soft blue)
3fd59e 9d49000000 (Moderate cyan - lime green)
When you take into account that there are 16.8 million (16,777,216 to be precise) possible colors that can be displayed on a screen. This means that it would take 160 years to tweet every color, assuming 1 tweet every 5 minutes. Since there are two twitter accounts posting these values every 5 minutes, this reduces the total time necessary to post each color to 80 years. Here is the math:
- 16,777,216 total colors and tweets
- 1 tweet every 5 minutes
- 12 tweets/hr
- 288 tweets/day
- 16,777,216 / 288 = 58,255 days (159.6 years total)
ADJUSTED FOR EXISTING TWEETS
- 16,777,216 total colors and tweets
- minus 522,316 (googuns_staging) and minus 610,497 (googuns_prod) = 1,132,813 existing tweets
- 16,777,216 - 1,132,813 = 15,644,403 total remaining colors and tweets (as of Feb 23rd 2015 14:00 Pacific)
- 15,644,403 / 288 = 54,320.8 days remaining at 1 tweet every 5 minutes
However, since two accounts are tweeting these values, by applying the ignore rules above, we can reduce the value of 54,320.8 days by 50% to get 27,160.4 remaining days. 27,160.4 days from today will be July 4th 2089 as determined by this site.
The countdown ends July 4th 2089, Alaska Time, Just Before Midnight
Needless to say I was a little surprised that not only could this be a countdown, but it even ends on Independence Day, the same day the countdown ended in the very movie that sparked the idea. To be fair, I should mention that the time based on my time zone actually ends on July 5th at about 2:00am. However this is assuming my specific time zone only. To comply fully with a July 4th time zone, this would have to be viewed from the perspective of a -10 (GMT) or lower time zone which is exclusively Alaska, the last possible hour for July 4th. And one cannot forget that this is assuming an average of one tweet every 5 minutes, there could be fewer tweets that eventually bring this into more time zones, or further away from the date.