This is just a short note prompted by a recent thread on the OTN forums. In recent versions Oracle changes the costs of a full table scan (FTS or index fast full scan / IFFS) quite dramatically if the "flashback query" clause gets used.
It looks like that it simply uses the number of blocks of the segment as I/O cost for the FTS operation, quite similar to setting the "db_file_multiblock_read_count" ("dbfmbrc"), or from 10g on more precisely the "_db_file_optimizer_read_count", to 1 (but be aware of the MBRC setting of WORKLOAD System Statistics, see comments below) for the cost estimate of the segment in question.
This can lead to some silly plans depending on the available other access paths as can be seen from the thread mentioned.
For the DBAs who want to have a refreser on SCN (system change number), this article article is very nice and explained clearly written by Sandeep Makol. It started on where you ‘ll find info for SCN (controlfile and datafile headers) then goes to the backup and recovery scenarios where knowledge of this “magic number” is very useful.
Below are some useful scripts (with sample output) as well