The sort of people I trust to extrapolate conclusions from data tell me that our universe is 13,730,000,000 years old, give or take 120 million (one percent error). The same universe holds observers who insist it began fewer than 10,000 years ago, just off the mark by six powers of ten, which factor also describes how much less credible they are due to their typical omnidirectional spray of similarly inflexible hogwash. Take inventory of the evidence in favor and against the notion that we were put here by a higher form of life: nil versus nil. Surely if we could travel through space to visit other planets we would bring enough of Earth’s forms of living matter to mingle down through remote generations with others we might encounter; perhaps during their efforts to fling their own apples far from the tree our forebears, who would have settled a branch office here had the climate been nicer in those days, sowed their sundry crops in our oceans and plan to return when they estimate our evolution will peak, like a brewer fermenting wort or a baker preparing dough; will we be drunk like beer or eaten like bread before we can fling our own apples to great numbers of planets so that such a harvest would not threaten to end every instance of our form of existence? I can imagine it on any magnitude of size: microscopic alien ancestry is as likely as mega-sized alien monstrosity; or of time: it could have been only thousands of years ago that we were culled from our livestock pens aboard an interstellar craft into this gravity well because we had bred too enthusiastically despite the food pellet ration formulated by our captors to keep us fat and drugged and delicious; or of frequency: interstellar microscopic biological packet delivery and long-term observation might prove to be the most accessible foray into uncharted environments, whether they be barren or inhabited with edible life forms or giant sharks or robotic soda jerks.
The reason I bring all this up is that it would be great if the people with alleged physical evidence of the age of the universe could nail it down to a precision of picoseconds. It might take a while so in the meantime let’s guess how many seconds have passed since time began and broadcast in all directions the estimated serial number of each second at the borders of its duration. When our scientific discoveries let us measure the duration with greater precision let us reset the clock. Other life forms that have similarly estimated of the age of the universe and are able to receive our signal might infer from the magnitude of the encoded numbers and the frequency of their arrival what the signal intends and thereby know that life exists at our distant star; we should be lucky enough to find a binary clock pulsing away across the galaxy to make us sure.
At least then we wouldn’t have to deal with negative timestamps because our 32-bit clocks are based on the number of seconds since 1970. At least, not until we try to represent time before the theoretical Big Bang singularity.